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NCNG runs emergency response drill ahead of hurricane season

Commanding Unit


North Carolina National Guard
Raleigh, NC, US

NCNG runs emergency response drill ahead of hurricane season


Courtesy Story

NCNG runs emergency response drill ahead of hurricane season By Army Sgt. Leticia Samuels
382nd Public Affairs Detachment

RALEIGH, N.C. - As hurricane season approaches for the southeastern United States, the North Carolina National Guard’s Joint Operations Center was buzzing as a simulated category-five hurricane approached the state’s western cities, during a planning exercise April 5 in Raleigh, N.C.

In all, more than 15 North Carolina soldiers and airmen came together for a multi-day hurricane-preparedness exercise, or HURREX, to ensure their own ability to support North Carolina’s citizens in an emergency.

The exercise – led by Army Capt. Gregory Gebhardt, a Joint Operations Center battle captain at the state’s headquarters – was broken down in three stages based on the hurricane’s path and landfall status.

The National Guard team began their response by determining the hurricane’s path through analyzing weather reports and advisories while simultaneously working with the North Carolina Emergency Management office, then prepositioning North Carolina National Guard units to support local cities and communities in need.

“Three main purposes of this exercise are to exercise the JOC at a level to manning, to get familiar with the settings of the new JOC, and the third is to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season,” Gebhardt said. The state’s JOC was recently relocated within the headquarters building.

One of the JOC’s missions is to respond to natural disasters within the state, and conduct or build training exercises that simulate situations where North Carolina National Guard soldiers and airmen could support state and local response efforts.

In the scenario, various elements of the North Carolina National Guard ran through their support responsibilities. For example, North Carolina’s Air Guard planned to provide aviation support and conduct a movement drill to avoid damage to aircraft stationed in Charlotte. Meanwhile, the Staff Judge Advocate office identified legal issues that arose during the exercise, and the Military Intelligence section gathered and distilled information for other staff representatives. Armed with the staff’s plans and updates, Gebhardt can assess the information and delegate assets support North Carolina Emergency Management and first-responders.

After the hurricane touches ground, the exercise’s final stage follows the North Carolina National Guard units used in the disaster response as they conduct follow-on recovery operations.

This training exercise is performed annually to ensure that the representatives holding positions in these specific chairs in the JOC gain the experience needed to work efficiently in support of North Carolina citizens.

“One of the most valuable things is to get the folks in the room for these joint exercises. The ability to build those relationships and that camaraderie, know how people think and how they operate. Just build that team; that’s invaluable,” Gebhardt said.

Later this month, North Carolina Emergency Management will be driving the training exercise to become aware of problems that could arise further into a hurricane response operation.

“NCEM came up with a scenario where the hurricane goes through Charlotte and exits western N.C., whereas most training exercises for both the Guard and Emergency Management have in the past focused on hurricanes bouncing off the coast, so we’re really well-versed in moving assets from western N.C. to eastern N.C., but we’re not as well-versed in moving assets to western N.C. from eastern N.C.,” Gebhardt said.

This type of training exercise will assist the JOC in identifying improvement opportunities and strengthen the relationships and cohesion between the North Carolina National Guard’s staff leaders.

Soldiers and airmen within the North Carolina National Guard stand ready to support state and local civilian authorities. In September 2011, almost 150 NCNG personnel were activated in eastern N.C. in response to Hurricane Irene. This past February, more than 100 soldiers and airmen supported North Carolina Emergency Management in the Raleigh area following Winter Storm Pax.

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