Story by Capt. Jessica Donnelly
Soldiers with the South Carolina Army National Guard assisted local law enforcement and other first responders along the coastal region of South Carolina Oct. 5, 2016, in evacuation of citizens in response to Hurricane Matthew and the potential impact the storm presents to the coast.
U.S. Army Capt. Michael Franzi, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade personnel officer, explained that the response included supporting traffic control points throughout the coastal counties, as well as the lane reversal of Interstate 26, which turned all lanes into westbound traffic to ease the congestion due to the evacuation.
“Our mission today is to assist vehicles on the eastbound side, heading westbound…if they were to breakdown, our mission is to get them out of the flow of traffic and pushed off to the side so a tow truck can come pick them up,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Molawka, 1118th Forward Support Company, 4-118th Combat Arms Battalion.
Molawka explained the South Carolina National Guard Soldiers also helped direct concerned motorists trying to figure out where they were supposed to go and guided them to their needed exits.
“It feels good to be able to help my community…I enjoy it,” added Molawka.
Soldiers with the 1052nd and 1053rd Transportation companies also supported the evacuation efforts at the North Charleston Convention Center where nearly 300 state buses were ready to transport evacuees who did not have their own transportation.
In addition to this support provided in preparation for impact of Hurricane Matthew, the South Carolina National Guard also has units prepared to help in the aftermath of the storm, if needed.
“We have debris removal teams staged and [military police] ready after the storm clears,” added Franzi.
South Carolina Army National Guard units supporting the coastal response includes the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, 4-118th Combat Arms Battalion, 218th Brigade Support Battalion, 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, 1050th Transportation Battalion, 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery, 122nd Engineer Battalion and 51st Military Police Battalion.
Hurricane Matthew peaked as a category 4 hurricane in the Caribbean and was projected to pass over the southeastern U.S., including the coast of South Carolina. Approximately 1,400 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were activated Oct. 4, 2016 in response to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s declaration of a State of Emergency.