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

Members of Westhampton-Based 106th Rescue Wing Help To Rescue 19 People In North Carolina Following Hurricane Florence

HH-60g Pavehawk helicopters from the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing and California Air National Guard 129 Rescue Wing take off from Oceana Naval Air Station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sam Weaver)
Sep 18, 2018 3:23 PM

Members of the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, stationed at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, helped rescue 19 people on North Carolina’s coast on Monday following Hurricane Florence, a Category 1 storm that hit the Carolinas early Friday morning.

Among the 19 people rescued via helicopter were children, an infant and a 62-year-old dialysis patient, Captain Michael O’Hagan, the 106th Rescue Wing’s public affairs officer, noted.

“The Air National Guardsmen are offering up support to civil authorities as needed in response to hurricane relief operations,” he said in a Facebook post earlier this week.

The team of 50 Westhampton airmen has been working with Air National Guardsmen from California, Kentucky, Alaska and Oregon—totaling 180 rescue workers—since Thursday, September 13, when they arrived at Dover Air Force Base, in Dover, Delaware.

The rescue squadron traveled south to Oceana Naval Air Station, in Virginia Beach, on Friday afternoon. After strategizing, combat rubber raiding crafts and HH-60G Pavehawk helicopters were deployed to the Carolina coast to assist with relief and rescue efforts.

The hurricane hit Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina—just east of Wilmington, and not far from the South Carolina border—dumping up to 40 inches of rain and bringing winds up to 112 mph. States of emergency were declared in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

As of Tuesday, more than 465,000 people were without power in North Carolina, 31 people died in storm-related incidents, and thousands were staying in shelters across the North Carolina’s eastern coast.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation reported approximately 1,200 road closures—including interstates 95 and 40—on Monday morning.

“For many parts of North Carolina, the danger is still immediate,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Flood waters are rising as rivers crest and will for days.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the deployment of the 106th airmen on Wednesday, September 12. Additionally, New York Power Authority crews and members of the New York State Department of Transportation and New York Task Force 2, a specialized team of first responders, were deployed.

“New York knows firsthand 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.”

It is unclear at this time how long the team of 106th Rescue Wing members will stay in North Carolina.

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