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Oct 28
NCNG: Hurricane Matthew Relief Efforts

LUMBERTON, N.C. – Water, food and electricity are all essentials citizens of Robeson County are without. North Carolina National Guard Soldiers activated on Oct. 8, 2016 for State Active Duty (SAD) work with numerous federal agencies providing support by transporting water, meals-ready-to-eat and cots to displaced citizens. 

Hurricane Matthew tore through the Southeastern region of the United States on Oct. 7 hitting N.C. the hardest, leaving costly damage to repair. Governor Pat McCrory activated the North Carolina National Guard to augment the first responders force in rescuing displaced citizens all over Eastern N.C. 

“Initially, it was chaos,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Darren Deese, the tank master gunner assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment. “We didn’t know what roads were closed. We didn’t know what routes we could take. Once the eastern branch of the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) sent their representative down, we got the shelters identified that Robeson county Social Services set up. We started pushing food and water out to those shelters. Now, we are in the support phase and things are going pretty smooth.” 

McCrory urged residents to evacuate their homes due to the massive flooding. There are five main shelters around the county accepting people affected. Two of them had influx of over 700 people. 

“We have never seen this much rain here in Robeson County,” said Anthony Dial, a Robeson County Social Services employee. “We did plan, but we didn’t expect this. We did have shelters in different sections of the county, however some of those shelters had to be closed because of the rain.” 

In the wake of the devastation people from counties across the state bought truckloads of food, water, clothes and other supplies. 

“We sent out pictures of what was going on through social media,” said Dial. “We had the faith-based community come in, we had people from the community just bringing in food from their freezers. We have thousands of cases of water that people are bringing in. Its just unbelievable!”

The North Carolina Guard continuously conducts various preparatory and recovery training to keep the force prepared for any situation. The deployment of soldiers for SAD led to the distribution of over 1,700 cots and over 20 pallets of water and meals-ready-to-eat to displaced citizens in Robeson County affected by Hurricane Matthew. 

“I feel like this is one of the main reasons we have the Guard,” said U.S. Army Spc. Ashley Hanna, a combat medic assigned to the 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “Of course, we have all these responsibilities for the country, but we signed up specifically to help our state. I think it’s great that we are able to do this for people who live in our hometowns.” 

Over 1,100 North Carolina National Guard troops and nearly 200 high water and rescue vehicles have been activated. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assist with rescues. The National Guard, State Highway Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard have increased aviation assets. There have been over 2,000 water rescues. 

“I’m pleased to come in and help these folks, drop off water, do humanitarian work and whatever is possible,” said Bill Winter, a search team manager of the Pennsylvania Task Force. “Our mission today is if anybody is here that cannot walk out, we are going to bring them out by boat or high water vehicle.”

Story by Sgt. Leticia Samuels


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