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    NCNG Engineers assist DOT during Hurricane Matthew aftermath

    NCNG Engineers assist DOT during Hurricane Matthew aftermath

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Ruth McClary | TARBORO, N.C. – North Carolina Army National Guard Sgt. Jack McDonald (standing), of...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Ruth McClary 

    North Carolina National Guard

    RAEFORD, N.C. – North Carolina National Guard engineers, of the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, are called to duty across the eastern region of the state, Oct. 10, 2016, to assist the Department of Transportation here, to clear fallen tree limbs and re-route standing water.
    Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in response to Hurricane Matthew that impacted communities across eastern North Carolina; mobilizing the National Guard, State Police, the Department of Emergency Management and the Department of Transportation to appropriate resources needed for storm response and recovery.
    According to Capt. Christopher Greene, of the 505th Engineer Battalion, more than 170 NCNG soldiers serving on state active duty assisted with clean up efforts in areas hit hardest by the storm.
    “The primary mission that our citizen soldiers work to complete is clearing routes for emergency services and allowing the ability to transport food and water to the affected areas with communities in need,” said Greene.
    The teams brought engineer assets such as dump trucks and hydraulic equipment to support the DOT with tree removal off the highways to open up routes. The teams removed trees and debris from the side of the road to prevent corrosion in areas where another rainfall could wash out or flood the area.
    “We have [removed] 12 loads of tree limbs and debris to date; six in one day since Wednesday,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Dunlap, of the 881st Engineer Company. “We are making sure [road edges and ditches] are safe by filling dirt and sand to prevent more corrosion and completing road shoulder repair in partnership with the Department of Transportation in the Fayetteville area.”

    This is the first time on state active duty for some of the soldiers, but many others were called in last year after Hurricane Joaquin hit South Carolina.
    “In South Carolina we did a lot of road construction,” said Sgt. Andrew Barley, of the 105th Engineer Battalion. “There were dirt roads that people used as their main means of transportation. A lot of roads were washed out and there were a lot of holes. We would transport dirt from companies, dump it and fill it in.”
    Soldiers wore special chaps with sturdy material to prevent immediate injury if it came in contact with the chainsaw. The chaps are safety-orange covered with tiger-like stripes to prevent blending in with nature and also to alert motorist or hunters and avoid accidents.
    The soldiers have various civilian backgrounds but all have been trained to handle the huge trucks and complete the jobs with skill. Depending on the site, they put on appropriate safety gear and continuously moved debris or rerouted water.
    “They have been able to haul thousands of tons of material to facilitate road repair while also pumping millions of gallons of water back into natural waterways bringing the town of Tarboro further and further above water,” said Greene.
    “We have been pumping 1.6 million gallons of water an hour, non-stop since we got here,” said 1st Sgt. Timothy Ashley, of the 875th Engineer Company. We have 13 guys and we have been rotating shifts. Even so, there is still about eight feet of water in the downtown area.”
    Soldiers at the Tarboro site are leading from the front, as they work side-by-side with subordinates. Ashley worked right along side of his soldiers; getting just as physical and dirty. Two sergeants put on wet suits to unclog strainers on the pumps; standing in flood water up to their chest for most of the day.
    As mosquitos and wasps swarmed the areas and foul odors filled the air, soldiers cleared fallen trees off roadways in Fayetteville and pumped water from the downtown area in Tarboro without complaint.
    Given no specific timeline, Guard personnel are expected to stay on duty as emergency managers determine what assistance is still needed. Additional personnel may be activated to escalate debris reduction capabilities and be on standby for other possible missions.
    No matter the site, the soldier’s spirits and energy was high even though the days have been long and very physical. The general consensus is that they are prepared to stay the duration, no matter how long that may be.
    “We are expecting a long haul and the guys are ready,” said Dunlap.



    Date Taken: 10.17.2016
    Date Posted: 10.27.2016 10:03
    Story ID: 213077
    Location: RAEFORD, NC, US

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