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Sep 13, 2018 1:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Members of Westhampton-Based 106th Rescue Wing Deployed To Assist In Response To Hurricane Florence

Members of the 106th Rescue Wing board a HC-130 aircraft in Westhampton on Thursday morning. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel H. Farrell)
Sep 13, 2018 1:20 PM

Members of the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing left Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton early Thursday morning and headed south to support relief efforts for Hurricane Florence—the looming Category 2 hurricane that is expected to hit the Carolinas by early Friday morning.

The team of 50 airmen—as well as an arsenal of aircraft, boats and other equipment—is expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base, in Dover, Delaware, later today. From there, they will assist where needed.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the 106th Rescue Wing said that the team “plans to use their highly trained guardsmen to assist in the Hurricane Florence relief effort.” Officials from the 106th Rescue Wing could not immediately be reached for further comment

As of Thursday morning, the storm was 130 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. The latest forecasts call for wind gusts up to 125 mph and up to 40 inches of rain along the Carolina coast. Hurricane and storm surge warnings are in effect for most of the coast, and some inland areas. After making landfall, the storm is expected to continue moving inward through early next week.

In a statement released at noon on Thursday by the National Hurricane Center read, in part: “Tropical-storm-force winds continue to spread across the outer banks and coastal southeastern North Carolina … life-threatening storm surge and rainfall expected.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the deployment of the airmen on Wednesday and said that the New York Army National Guard is also ready to deploy two CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters, which can carry up to 30 people, and two UH-60 Blackhawk medical evacuation helicopters, if needed. The aircraft are on standby at Rochester International Airport.

Additionally, New York Power Authority crews and members of the State Department of Transportation and New York Task Force 2, a specialized team of first responders, will be deployed if necessary.

“New York knows first-hand the devastation that extreme weather can leave behind, and we stand ready to help those who are in the path of Hurricane Florence in any way we can,” Mr. Cuomo said in a press release. “New Yorkers always help their neighbors in their time of need and just as we have stood shoulder to shoulder with Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida after last year’s destructive storms, we will once again stand ready to lend a hand to our fellow Americans.”

The release also noted that New York’s stockpiles of sandbags, generators, bottled water, cots and ready to eat meals are “prepared and ready for deployment to impacted states.”

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