North Carolina National Guard prepares for hurricanes
By Spc. Alonzo Clark | North Carolina National Guard June 15, 2020
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The holiday celebrations of "Tis' the season" are months away, but for the North Carolina National Guard (NCNG), "Tis the season" to prepare for hurricanes.
NC Army National Guard Maj. Aaron Youngblood, director of military support at Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) in Raleigh, is meeting almost daily to coordinate with NC Emergency Management on issues from sheltering to safety.
"We are focused on our priority vehicles, force packages and preparation for an initial safety recon, which we call 'Spearhead,' which includes a significant number of Medium Tactical Vehicles (MTVs) and Humvee (HMMWV) vehicles," said Youngblood.
The NCNG plans to continue following government-mandated COVID-19 precautions. Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper social distancing will be enforced if the Guard responds to hurricanes in the state.
"We are going through our force packages, checking our readiness, trying our best to get everything ready and organized and making sure we have the appropriate COVID PPE in addition to the hurricane PPE," Youngblood said. "The best we can do at this point is to stay prepared."
Youngblood believes the Guard's hurricane preparation strategies will lead to mission success.
"We're as good as we ever have been," Youngblood said. "I feel like units have gotten a lot of practice over the past months calling up troops and getting them ready for missions. I think we are in pretty decent shape."
Youngblood explained who will be on alert in an emergency.
"Our joint operation center will maintain situational awareness. They're constantly monitoring 24/7," he said. "The meteorologist with the State Emergency Response Team will give us information and predictions that we need to station our units."
Last year, more than 500 members of the Guard and 183 vehicles were deployed to support the state of North Carolina during Hurricane Dorian.
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