FEMA already setting up Florence relief operation at Fort Bragg
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is setting up its relief operation for Hurricane Florence even before the massive storm hits North Carolina.
FEMA tractor-trailers filled with water and non-perishable food began rolling in Monday at Simmons Army Airfield on Fort Bragg. Officials said the staging area will provide hurricane relief to South Carolina and parts of Virginia as well as to North Carolina.
Portable generators – some large enough to power a small city – sit on flatbed trailers at the staging area.
Gov. Roy Cooper said officials have learned from past hurricanes that flooded roads and downed trees and power lines can make it hard to get supplies distributed after the storm, so he asked FEMA to move some of the supplies closer to areas that are likely to be hardest hit by Florence.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cooper met with the FEMA team at Fort Bragg and was briefed on the supplies on hand.
“We’ve distributed to a number of areas now because we know that they will be needed,” he said. “Food, water, supplies, cots, generators are already being distributed out there in places that we know will need it.”
Meanwhile, about 80 Black Hawk and Apache Longbow helicopters flew out of Simmons Army Airfield earlier Tuesday to a location near Atlanta to get out of Florence’s path.
The Black Hawk helicopters could be used to help with hurricane relief efforts, if requested by the governor. But the Apache helicopters are purely fighting machines and wouldn’t be useful in hurricane relief.
“If we lose these aircraft to a storm, it impacts our ability to be ready in case of any type of contingency world-round,” said LTC Bryan Hummel, of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade. “So we got to make sure we get them out and get them in a safe location, and then when the storm’s passed – a couple of days after that – most likely we’ll go back and recover them back here, and we’ll continue to start training.”
Because the Apache helicopters cost $16 million to $20 million each, it’s also cheaper to fly the 80 aircraft to Georgia that risk any of them being damaged in the storm.