<i>Story by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan</i>
EASTOVER, S.C. - South Carolina Army National Guard Capt. Sean Easley was part of the SCNG team that prepared a South Carolina welcome for 500 new guests with food, lodging, thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and parking for hundreds of military vehicles as North Carolina National Guard Soldiers reported to the McCrady Training Center at Eastover, South Carolina, for South Carolina Emergency Management Division flood response, Oct. 10, 2015.In less than a week after historic statewide flooding the post, reserved for SCNG military training, is transformed into a small city with Soldiers conducting 24-hour operations. “It is all part of prior planning, we are very experienced at this,” said Easley, a leader with the 710th Explosive Hazard Coordination Cell stationed at the center.South Carolina National Guard experts carefully guided the new arrivals to refueling points where vehicles are topped off with fuel and inspected for safety and mission capability. The posts roads are filled as Humvees, tractor trailers loaded with bulldozers, skid steer loaders, backhoes and other heavy engineering equipment, medium and light tactical vehicles stuffed with supplies, eight-wheeled palletized load system trucks, 10 and 20-ton dump trucks make their way past the modern training sites, forests and fields of the center. “I am a little jealous of the base,” said Army Pvt. Brandon Estridge of Rockingham, North Carolina, a heavy equipment operator with the NCNG’s 881st Engineer Company.There is a constant rumble of engines as buses, trucks and Humvees bring the NCNG Soldiers to the battle simulation center. Inside SCNG medical technicians and doctors check extensive medical records and administer inoculations as needed to the hundreds of in-processing NCNG Soldiers.“It is what we do, let us take it from here,” said Army Sgt. Tommy Alston of Columbia, South Carolina, a SCNG medical readiness noncommissioned officer with the SCNG Medical Command. The assembly area is filled with constant motion. Briefs from SCNG officers familiarized the Soldiers with the installation. United Services Organization volunteers and staff hand each arrival snacks, water and comfort items.“It is awesome how they accommodated us” said Spc. Donna Hyson, of Hope Mills, North Carolina, a heavy equipment operator with the NCNG’s 881st Engineer Company, headquartered in Rockingham, North Carolina. After the Soldiers checked in, the dining facility began operations with 700 hot meals for North and South Carolina Soldiers. Several cooks darted back and forth in the cramped kitchen, prepping, cooking and serving the meals. Orders for more food are shouted over the hiss of burners and dinner table commotion.“Gotta make it work,” said Sgt. 1st Class Deanna Geerhols, a cook with the SCNG’s 742nd Maintenance Company headquartered in Florence, South Carolina.Work continued through the evening as offices are assigned and operations planning began. Senior leaders with the NCNG’s 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade work to match their assets of the 505th Engineering Battalion with South Carolina Emergency Management Division requests. Maps are studied with missions starting hours after the Soldiers arrived from North Carolina. Convoy after convoy rolled in as the nearly 500 NCNG Soldiers called up from civilian jobs deploy across South Carolina. Subordinate units in the 505th received orders as vehicles are checked and rechecked. Leaders make last minute changes to plans and they and their Soldiers move out.“I am pretty excited, it is what I signed up for,” said Army Pvt. Brandon Estridge of Rockingham, North Carolina, a heavy equipment operator with the 881st.The NCNG deployed under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact on order from the governor of North Carolina. These Soldiers joined thousands of previously deployed SCNG Soldiers for around-the-clock response efforts statewide.