National Guardsmen have flowed in from at least 28 states to help North and South Carolina units support civil authorities following Hurricane Florence, according to figures from the National Guard Bureau.
Meanwhile, the Guard continues to respond to storms affecting Hawaii and Guam and to wildfires affecting Western states, in addition to support on the Southwest border and overseas deployments.
In the aftermath of Florence, the Guard is providing aircraft and crews, including UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, and KC-135 Stratotanker refuelers.
The Guard also is providing swift-water boats and high-water vehicles for rescue; generators; security, communications, road clearing and debris removal assistance; food, water and cot deliveries; and support to shelters and distribution points.
The North and South Carolina National Guards are focused on life-saving, search and rescue and relief missions, and each state's guard had already conducted hundreds of such missions by Sunday afternoon.
Supporting states include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia National Guard also is supporting the response.
Florence has brought more than 40 inches of rain, leaving communities in both states bracing for the prospect of flooding potentially affecting thousands of miles of roads.
In North Carolina, the Guard’s first priority has been safeguarding lives and property. Hundreds of missions have been completed, mostly east of Interstate 95, including search and rescue, swift-water rescue support, sandbag operations, commodities distribution, evacuations and support to local law enforcement and first responders.
“We'll be standing in a very long line of National Guardsmen that goes back nearly 400 years; it's uniquely a National Guard mission,” Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Lusk, the North Carolina adjutant general, told Guardsmen n responding in his state.
Kentucky sent 60 members of the Kentucky Army Guard's 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. The unit's command and control center will synchronize aviation efforts of communication, rescue operations and overall assistance to those affected by the storm.
“This is one of the best parts of being a guardsman, answering the call for help from citizens of our neighboring states,” said Col Dwayne Lewis, the commander of the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. “As an aviation unit, we know the expertise we bring is sometimes the only hope that those in need may have, and we take the mission of supporting our neighbors and rendering life-sustaining aid very seriously.”