Connecticut National Guard preparing to respond to Hurricane Florence
The Connecticut National Guard is sending 10 of its guardsmen and two aircraft to an area west of where Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall in order to more rapidly respond as part of disaster relief efforts.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter and a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter left early Wednesday with 10 guardsmen to provide aviation support such as surveying damage and flooding. They were slated to land at a staging area in Tennessee on Wednesday afternoon to await further orders, and to allow for a more rapid response.
“In Connecticut, we know how firsthand what it’s like to experience extraordinary weather events, and we know how important the help of neighbors can be during recovery,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement announcing the departure of the guardsmen. “The men and women of the Connecticut National Guard are among the most well-trained and well-prepared in the country, and I thank them for dropping everything at a moment’s notice so that we can assist our neighbors to our south with what is looking like will become a devastating situation.”
The helicopters are capable of transporting personnel and heavy equipment. A Chinook can carry about 30 people, in addition to the crew, and a Blackhawk can carry about a dozen people, in addition to crew members. The helicopters have hoist capabilities to lift equipment like military vehicles and palletized cargo.
It’s a familiar mission for the state’s guardsmen, including some of those who departed Wednesday. One of the Chinook pilots deployed to Jacksonville, Fla., last year to support Hurricane Irma relief efforts. The Blackhawk pilot supported Superstorm Sandy relief efforts in New York and New Jersey in 2012.
More than 100 National Guard personnel supported Hurricane Maria relief efforts last year, and the Connecticut Air National Guard conducted over 70 sorties between Connecticut, a staging area in Savannah, Ga., and San Juan, Puerto Rico, in support of those efforts.