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North Carolina Guard Assists in Fran Cleanup

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 1996 – Nearly a week after Hurricane Fran ripped through North Carolina, nearly 3,100 members of the state's Army and Air National Guard continue disaster relief efforts.

North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt activated Guard elements Sept. 5, just hours before Fran hit Wilmington, N.C. As of Sept. 13, the Guard received over 475 requests from the state emergency response team to assist communities damaged by the storm.

To further assist North Carolina residents, National Guard personnel from Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama are also supporting cleanup efforts around the state.

"This is a perfect example of the citizen soldier, responding to the needs of the community following a disaster," said Army Maj. Gen. Gerald A. Rudisill Jr., North Carolina Guard's adjutant general. "Our soldiers and airmen are doing an outstanding job during a most difficult time."

Although Fran's fury affected most of the state, National Guard officials said a majority of their support centers around six counties. Nearly 700 troops initially went to New Hanover County to support citizens in and around Wilmington. Another 210 deployed to adjacent Pender County.

The Guard is also concentrating efforts in Wake and Johnston counties, where nearly 1,800 troops are handling damage around Raleigh and Smithfield. Although its hurricane winds diminished after hitting land, Fran still managed to damage many homes, schools and businesses in the capital.

"All the schools in the Raleigh area are closed because of the damage," said Army Capt. Jennifer Rokosz, a National Guard spokeswoman. "There are still problems with power lines, and we've got people in the city trying to get things cleaned up and open."

Guardsman also deployed to areas near North Carolina military bases. Maj. Mark Teachey, commander of the 382d Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, said over 200 guardsmen initially went to Onslow County to support efforts around Jacksonville and the Marine Base at Camp Lejeune.

Teachey said another 100 Guardsmen deployed to Wayne County -- home of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, near Goldsboro. Other detachments traveled to Harnett and Cumberland Counties to help people around Fayetteville and the Fort Bragg/Pope Air Force Base communities.

National Guard personnel are performing a variety of duties which range from supplying water and power for emergency facilities to removing storm debris. Units are providing 5-ton trucks to load and transport debris, as well as chain saws and power tools to remove downed trees.

Troops are also assisting state and local law enforcement authorities, staffing area check points and enforcing curfews in hard-hit area. Engineers are helping state authorities in identifying power problems and providing generator power to community hospitals.

(Army National Guard Sgt. Jason Pleasant of the 382nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment contributed to this article.)

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