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    South Carolina National Guard engineers respond in aftermath of storms in state

    South Carolina National Guard engineers conduct debris clearing in Pickens County

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine | U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers with the 122nd Engineer Battalion, South Carolina...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    South Carolina National Guard

    Story by 2nd Lt. Nathaniel Richmond

    PICKENS COUNTY, SC - A devastating storm outbreak wreaked havoc over several counties in the Upstate of South Carolina April 13, 2020 causing millions of dollars in damage and leaving behind thousands of destroyed homes and families without power.

    One small community in the foothills of Pickens County, just east of Laurel and Hardy fishing lake, was severely impacted by a tornado that touched down along the low-lying river basin. The tornado ransacked the neighborhood, homes were ripped from their foundations, and trees had fallen along the South Saluda River. The fallen trees were scattered all through the river, forming multiple points for potential flooding to residents along the riverbank.

    In the aftermath of the tornadoes that impacted this small community, 14 South Carolina Army National Guard Soldiers with the 125th Engineer Company answered the call for help and assisted Pickens County Emergency Operation Center (EOC) and Team Rubicon, a non-governmental organization (NGO), in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) debris clearing mission that spanned from May 2-9. This was the first time in history that all three organizations worked together. Denise Kwiatek, Pickens County Emergency Management director, Brian Ackerman, Team Rubicon director of operations in South Carolina, and U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Nathaniel Richmond, 125th Engineer Company platoon leader, worked jointly to assess, plan, and accomplish the debris reduction mission.

    Unfortunately, this was not the only challenge these organizations would have to overcome, as the COVID-19 pandemic was still impacting the country. Several precautions were taken during the debris clearing event to lessen the potential spread of the virus, including a medical pre-screening, proper hygiene, and working in small teams of 3-4 maintaining a 6-foot distance from one another.

    This project proved to be a great learning experience for Soldiers and volunteers to work with local government agencies and NGOs in order to help a community that was in need. It also allowed Soldiers to experience a real-world DSCA operation. It allowed them to put their training to use and provide support to their state, which is a reason why so many of them chose to serve in the South Carolina Army National Guard.

    Furthermore, after over a combined 1,000-man hours and 45 hours of operating heavy equipment, volunteers from Pickens County EOC, Team Rubicon, and Soldiers of the 125th Engineer Company cleared approximately 60 fallen trees covering the size of about 2.5-acres from just off the South Saluda River. The team successfully removed eight root-balls that were uprooted from the storm and cleared scrap metal and debris.

    The amount of work that these Soldiers and volunteers put into this community in the short amount of time was challenging but extremely rewarding. The experience and confidence gained from all three organizations will be invaluable for potential future joint operations. These men and women exemplified dedication and support to help a community in a time of need and it speaks volumes about their character. Soldiers of the 125th Engineer Company were able to give back to the state of South Carolina and keeping true to the U.S. Army Engineer motto “Essayons!” meaning “Let us try!”



    Date Taken: 06.01.2020
    Date Posted: 06.01.2020 20:18
    Story ID: 371217
    Location: MARIETTA, SC, US 

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