News: SC National Guard debris removal teams clear roads after ice storm
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Cashion
AIKEN, S.C. - Neighborhoods were devastated, power lines were down and trees and debris were everywhere following a fierce snow and ice storm which hit South Carolina Feb. 11-13, 2014.
One of the hardest hit areas in terms of damage was Aiken County, and once the storm was over and damage was assessed, soldiers with various units of the South Carolina National Guard's 122nd Engineer Battalion swung into action.
Their task was to clear roads of debris and help the local citizenry try to get back to some sense normalcy following one of the winter storms to hit the Palmetto State in years. But it wasn't easy.
“The secondary roads are in terrible shape,” said 1st Lt. Russell Brenton, officer in charge of a debris team responsible for clearing a secondary road near Aiken, S.C. “We want to help the local authorities clear the roads so traffic can flow freely.”
Using chainsaws, backhoe loaders and gloves, soldiers cleared roads of downed trees and other debris. The storm left thousands in the area without power and all of the debris on secondary roads prevented some citizens from reaching major highways and local towns.
“The biggest issue we're seeing is downed power lines,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ollie West of the 125th Multi Role Bridge Company.
West and his team of seven soldiers cleared another road of debris near Brenton and his crew.
With many traditional Guardsmen being friends and neighbors to those in affected communities, Brenton said he took pride in being able to put on a uniform and help them in this time of need.
“It's neat when you can help your hometown,” he said. “We want to take care of our own when tough times hit, like they had during this storm.”
West, who has plenty of experience with storm recovery, as he was in the Guard during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, agreed.
“I like helping my community when they need it most,” West said.
That help did not go unnoticed by the local authorities, who enlisted the help of the South Carolina National Guard to help clean up a community devastated by the storm.