Army Helicopter Crews and Ground Forces Dispatched as Dorian Makes Landfall

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The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade deployed in support of Hurricane Dorian relief effort September 2, 2019. (U.S. Army photo/Paul M. Oliver)
The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade deployed in support of Hurricane Dorian relief effort September 2, 2019. (U.S. Army photo/Paul M. Oliver)

U.S. Army helicopter crews from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, deployed this week to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to serve as an emergency response force for Hurricane Dorian.

The aviation task force, made up of the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, left Hood on short notice as the 1st ACB "is preparing to deploy other subordinate battalions into different theaters of operation," Maj. Gen. Dave Francis, commander of the Aviation Center of Excellence at Rucker, said Thursday at an Association of the United States Army event.

"I have to tell you how impressed I was with this organization," Francis said. "To a man and to a woman -- crew chiefs, pilots, maintainers -- everybody in that task force was absolutely motivated to be there."

The deployment of the 2-227th is part of a larger Army aviation effort to stage relief forces to respond to Dorian if needed.

Related: Thousands of US Sailors and Marines on Alert to Assist the Bahamas After Dorian

"Right now, we have 156 aircraft from all three components -- that's National Guard from at least five states, the United States Army Reserve and the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade -- postured across the southeastern United States for hurricane response for Hurricane Dorian," according to Brig. Gen. Michael McCurry, director of Army Aviation for the Army's deputy chief of staff for G-3/5/7.

Dorian made landfall at 8:35 a.m. Friday at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. The Category 1 storm produced 90 mph winds and was still strong enough to knock out power and cause thousands of coastal residents to seek refuge in public shelters, the Sentinel reported.

Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Tuesday that more than 5,500 National Guard personnel from the Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida National Guard were staging forces as Dorian moved up the East Coast, according to a recent Army news release. The bulk of the response effort is made up of about 4,500 soldiers and airmen from Florida's Guard.

Since then, more than 1,400 Georgia Air and Army guardsmen have been activated and staged for hurricane response, Army officials said in a news release Thursday afternoon.

About 1,600 soldiers and airmen from the South Carolina National Guard have been activated and about 300 North Carolina Army and Air guardsmen are staged across eastern and central North Carolina, with more than120 high-water clearance vehicles and rescue helicopters on standby, according to the release.

In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers has deployed roughly 450 personnel to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to restore power outages, repair damaged roofing and provide temporary housing as needed, the release states.

"Soldiers and their units in the projected path of the approaching storm are taking the necessary steps to secure and safeguard personnel, equipment, and their families," according to the Army release. "Units are also preparing and prepositioning equipment to be ready to support any necessary relief and recovery efforts after the storm hits."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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