Story by Lt. Col. Cindi King
Approximately 800 South Carolina National Guard troops were mobilized September 7, 2017, after South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency the day prior. Hurricane Irma has been called the strongest hurricane in the history of Atlantic storms as a category 5 hurricane and has already claimed lives in the Caribbean.
“Just as our Soldiers and Airmen stayed strong and answered the call during the floods of 2015, Hurricane Matthew last year and the many other recent events when our state needed support, so now is the time we must be ready for Hurricane Irma,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston., Jr. the adjutant general for South Carolina.
Evacuations were ongoing with the highest volume expected to begin over the weekend as highway lane reversals away from the coastline would begin based on the path of the storm. McMaster said he will determine the timeframe for official evacuations for the different coastal regions before the weekend, but wants individuals with medical needs to evacuate now.
“Team South Carolina is ready,” said McMaster. “Now is the time for our citizens to be ready.”
Livingston mentioned that because the South Carolina National Guard recently deployed two helicopter battalions to Afghanistan, they are coordinating with other states to bring in additional aviation assets as they are needed to support, including swift water rescue.
“This is a serious and dangerous storm, not only because of its strength as a deadly category 5 storm but because of the tremendous amount of uncertainty as it passes through the Florida Keys and steers along the East coast,” said Livingston. “History has shown us from Hugo and Matthew in South Carolina, and as recently as Harvey in Texas, these weather events are unpredictable and we must plan for worst case scenarios to safeguard the lives of our citizens.”