N.C. sends more rescue crews south

FORKLIFTNCRALEIGH – North Carolina sent more supplies and personnel to South Carolina Thursday as the southern neighbors try to recover from historic flooding. N.C. National Guard, Civil Air Patrol and other crews are loading trucks with thousands of water bottles, medical supplies and road barricades to send south. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley says that the next 48 hours could bring even more flooding as water from last week’s torrential rain moves toward the ocean.

“North Carolina has the experience, resources and staff to help South Carolina recover from this unprecedented flooding,” said N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory. “We will support our neighbors in the weeks and months ahead just as we know they would help us.”

North Carolina’s emergency response staffers are gearing too, headed down to help with the logistics of deploying massive numbers of troops and supplies. Two Civil Air Patrol planes and crew were sent to help with aerial damage assessment while 545 N.C. National Guard soldiers and airmen will load into more than 200 vehicles to clear roads, reinforce dams and collect debris. Some of the responders plan to be in the Palmetto State for more than a month.

“Our emergency personnel and first responders will be working extremely long hours and, in many cases, potentially hazardous situations,” said N.C. Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. “Yet they are reaching out with compassion, strength and commitment to helping our southern neighbors.”

Governor McCrory began sending help over the weekend after more than 18-24 inches of rain hit South Carolina, washing away roads and stranding citizens without power or clean water. Officials report that nineteen people have died in the flood waters. Two of those were on Wednesday as rivers rise over super-saturated ground. So far the S.C. state government has reported that 13 dams have failed across the state and another 62 are being monitored.

scHELPSince arriving on Sunday, three North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Teams (NC HART) have been rescuing those trapped in the flood waters in vehicles or homes. Each rescue team is a carefully trained group designed to respond in a disaster. On each team, nine search and rescue technicians use three Blackhawk helicopters, which have six pilots and crew chiefs from the N.C. National Guard.

A liaison is coordinating their efforts on the ground. The response and rescue system, called EMAC or Emergency Management Assistance Compact, was designed by state governors after Hurricane Andrew in Florida, and was called into action after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Alaska flooding in 2007.

“This mobilization is unique to the National Guard because of our dual-mission purpose and authority,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, the adjutant general for North Carolina National Guard. “South Carolina is experiencing a magnitude of disaster similar to what North Carolina experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd. During that disaster other states responded to our calls for assistance. It is now our honor and obligation to reciprocate to our neighbors, fellow Americans in South Carolina.”

Under EMAC, the costs incurred by the assisting states are fully paid by the requesting state. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says that the total cost of recovery may reach $1 billion.