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National Guard Armory in Elizabethtown serves as staging area for Hurricane Matthew

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By: Erin Smith

The National Guard Armory Charlie Company 1/120th Inf. Reg. located on Swanzy Street in Elizabethtown is serving as one of four staging areas for disaster response units during Hurricane Matthew.

The Armory is one of four staging areas that will be used during Hurricane Matthew. Gov. Pat McCrory announced on Thursday that staging areas will also be located in New Bern, Williamston and Kinston. 

We are supporting the Eastern branch of the Emergency Operations Center in Kinston,” said Sgt. First Class Deese. 

He added that the National Guard Unit has hazardous response teams and truck teams that can go out and assist people during the storm. Sgt. Deese said that the truck teams have the capacity to reach people who may be experiencing flooding or need to evacuate to a shelter.

The Armory is also hosting the North Carolina Task Force 2 team. They are a civilian swift water rescue team based out of Buncombe County.

Sgt. Deese said that his unit and Task Force 2 will be focused on what happens in southeastern North Carolina especially in areas such as New Hanover and Brunswick Counties. Sgt. First Class Wilson said their mission is to augment the emergency operations in southeastern portion of North Carolina.

“We have troops and we have equipment. We have multiple teams within those troops,” said Sgt. Deese.

He explained that if water gets to four or five feet deep, his troops and trucks can go and assist the elderly or anyone who cannot get out of their home due to flooding.

“We will be helping in any kind of way we can. Obviously, local law enforcement has jurisdiction,” said Sgt. Deese.

Eric Rogers with Task Force 2 said, “We have four swift water boat crews ready to deploy rapidly. If we get a call we can be out in ten minutes and headed wherever we are needed.”

 Rogers said when the Task Force 2 team initially deployed from Asheville, the team planned to be in the area for about 72 hours. 

Rogers said on Friday morning the team has 16 members with them in Bladen County. He said the team is trained for rescues involving swift or rapidly moving water. Rogers siad his team is trained to effectively rescue humans or animals.