200 engineers from NC Army National Guard heading to Puerto Rico
RALEIGH - Governor Roy Cooper has authorized sending 200 engineers from the N.C. Army National Guard to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
N.C. Guard soldiers assigned to the 105th Engineer Battalion "Task Force Rhino", headquartered in Raeford, N.C., will have their advance team depart sometime this weekend with the remainder of the unit deploying next week. They are expected to be in Puerto Rico for 30 days, but are prepared to be there longer if required.
Puerto Rico requested assistance from NC Guard through an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request with NC Emergency Management to aid in recovery.
"When our state was devastated with severe flooding during Hurricane Matthew last year, many states came to our assistance in our time of need", Cooper said. "Now it's our turn to provide aid to fellow citizens in Puerto Rico."
The 105th will be the headquarters element in a multi-state engineer task force comprised of a total of 618 soldiers from the South Carolina, Louisiana and New York Army National Guards.
"These NC Guard engineers are no strangers to disaster recovery missions having deployed to South Carolina in 2015 to aid in severe flooding recovery, Hurricane Matthew last year, and supported debris removal missions this month in western North Carolina from the effects of Hurricane Irma," Col. Tim Aiken, NC Guard's Director of Joint Operations, said.
Due to widespread storm damage from wind and rain, much of the island's infrastructure has been damaged, to include homes, businesses, government buildings, and the road networks.
Task Force Rhino will help with clearing debris from roads and making hasty road repairs to allow aid to reach areas cut off from the storm as well restoring infrastructure.
"The people of Puerto Rico are in our thoughts and prayers," Cooper said.