16:57 PM

Carolina Wings Prepare as Hurricane Florence Looms

Capt. Lynne Albert
Public Affairs Officer
North Carolina Wing

1st Lt. Rachael Mercer
Public Affairs Officer
South Carolina Wing

As Hurricane Florence takes aim on the Mid-Atlantic Coast, Civil Air Patrol’s North Carolina and South Carolina wings stand ready to respond to the storm’s predicted destructive assault on their states.

Florence, upgraded today to a Category 4 storm, is expected to make landfall Thursday, spawning destructive winds and massive amounts of rainfall leading to major inland flooding. States of emergency have been declared by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

The South Carolina Wing is already staffing the State Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia. Members have worked since Saturday to ensure that wing assets, including CAP planes, are properly positioned to respond as needed and are located a safe distance from Florence’s initial landfall area.

Pilots are scheduled to take to the air Tuesday to observe lane reversals along several evacuation routes.

Each year the wing participates in a full-scale exercise to test and refine its responses in the face of such emergencies.

“The airmen of the South Carolina Wing of Civil Air Patrol are prepared through planning and practice for emergency events such as this,” said Col. Lee Safley, wing commander. “We work in partnership with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and with sister agencies to serve the citizens of South Carolina.”

Once Florence has passed, expected missions in both wings include generating aerial photographs of the storm’s impact for emergency agencies’ use in gauging the damage and directing the response, providing government officials with aerial views of disaster areas, and carrying out search and rescue — on the ground and from the air — if the need arises. Members are ready to work with federal, state and local partners.

The North Carolina Wing has also relocated its 18 CAP planes to protect them from the storm. Members are also preparing to staff the State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh and to staff distribution centers that provide emergency supplies across the state.“When other state and federal agencies need our air and ground team resources, we will be there for them,” said Col. R. Jason Bailey, wing commander. “CAP’s North Carolina Wing has almost 2,000 trained volunteer members who are prepared to support our state when needed.”