12:02 PM

N.C., S.C. Wings Prepare for Possible Irma Arrival

Members Draw on Hurricane Matthew Experience from Fall 2016

As Hurricane Irma swirls in the Atlantic, the North and South Carolina wings are preparing for statewide responses to the storm’s anticipated landfall. Though the projected path of Irma, a Category 5 storm, hasn’t been confirmed to include either of the Carolinas, both state’s governors have declared a state of emergency.

"We don't know exactly where the storm will track and we don't know what parts of North Carolina will be impacted, but we do know it is time for North Carolinians to prepare for Irma," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has also issued an executive order calling for a state of emergency, and all state emergency agencies are authorized to prepare for a worst-case scenario.The strength of Irma's winds are being compared to those of Hurricane Hugo, which caused devastation in South Carolina in September 1989.

Civil Air Patrol is planning for aircraft and aircrew support from both wings. The experience wing members gained from responding to Hurricane Matthew last fall has led to preparation for flying evacuation routes, conducting aerial photography of the storm’s impact and providing aerial communication relays to government officials.Members will be staffing the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.

“We are hoping for the best but planning for the worse with this hurricane,” said Col. R. Jason Bailey, North Carolina Wing commander. “When other state and federal agencies need our air and ground team resources, we will be there for them.”

South Carolina Wing members will be staffing the Air Operations Center at the state Department of Public Safety as well as the State Emergency Operations Center.“We have a very good working relationship with the other state agencies,” said Col. Lee Saffley, South Carolina Wing commander. “We work closely with them to provide continuous air resources over the course of emergencies such as these.”