HILTON HEAD, S.C. —
The South Carolina National Guard responded to missions along the state’s coastal region yesterday in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, clearing roads so people could return to their homes.
National Guard assets were pre-positioned throughout the region in preparation for the devastation expected as the storm passed through the state.
“When the storm was over, we woke up that morning and they put us on the road,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Roberts, 125th Engineer Company section leader for heavy-equipment operators.
Soldiers had been staged in the Hilton Head area earlier in the week as Hurricane Matthew was monitored, Roberts added. They were able to get their equipment ready for missions and were prepared to start clearing roads as soon as the storm passed, he said.
The engineer company is working to clear the roads here as citizens begin returning home.
“There’s a lot of debris, but we can go over just about any obstacle [or can] go through it, cut through it or knock it out of the way,” Roberts said. “We’re just trying to make the roads as passible as possible.”
Other engineer units are conducting similar missions throughout the state in areas affected by the storm, including Conway, Georgetown, Bluffton and McClellanville, as well as others.
Army Col. Jeffrey Jones, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade commander, said these assets were in place because floods in October 2015 demonstrated their importance. “We were thinking ahead this year,” he said. “We anticipated the needs, and we’re responding to the needs of the citizens in a timely manner.”
About 2,800 South Carolina National Guard soldiers and airmen have been activated since Oct. 4 to support state and county emergency management agencies and local first responders after Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency.