Wisconsin public affairs team volunteers provide Hurricane Florence relief

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andrea Rhode
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Public Affairs broadcasters and photojournalists from the Wisconsin National Guard spent a week in South Carolina providing coverage of the flooding aftermath of Hurricane Florence from Sept. 23 - 30.


After less than 24-hours notice to pack their bags and begin their more than 16-hour drive, the team of one Soldier and three Airmen arrived safely in South Carolina. They were immediately sent to different areas of the state to ensure full-coverage of the areas in danger.


“We hit the ground running,” said Sgt. Kati Stacy, 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, photo and broadcast journalist. “Within 15 minutes of arriving in Bucksport I was called out to report on a mission. The search and rescue teams were rescuing local citizens, along with dogs and horses from flooded areas.”


Stacy was in the brunt of the action. 


“It was heartbreaking to see the devastation and how this flooding had impacted so many lives,” she said. “I was proud to see the Soldiers working alongside other organizations to provide as much aid as they could give.”


The Bucksport area was hit the hardest. Floodwaters filled their streets and their homes. Some cars were left completely under water. Even the water on the highway was deep enough that the team needed boats to perform their missions.


“Some people who chose to stay didn’t have the money to get out, and they were too proud to depend on available resources,” Stacy said.


Others just chose to stay. They didn’t want to leave their homes.


“The teams I went out with did wellness checks and got their contact information,” she said. “That way, even if they chose to stay, they could make sure the citizens were okay.”


Airman 1st Class Cameron Lewis, 115th Fighter Wing, photojournalist, saw a different kind of action.


“We didn’t have any rescues being made, but I did have an opportunity to see what goes into flood preparation,” he said. “All the Soldiers and Airmen came together to make sure water barriers, sandbags and floating bridges were in place for the projected flooding.”


The teams worked 24/7 missions to ensure main roadways and bridges remained operable, even in the event of a major flood.


“It was crazy to see the work that goes into preparing for a natural disaster like this,” Lewis said. “The crews were working nonstop, for days on-end.”


The Wisconsin public affairs team worked hard until the end. They all expressed their gratitude having the opportunity to support the coverage of life-saving missions.


“The support we were able to provide to our counterparts, many of who had been on-scene since before Hurricane Florence hit the coast, was definitely appreciated,” Stacy reflected. “They had been covering the events and aftermath of the hurricane for more than two weeks and we could see the exhaustion on their faces.”


After a week of non-stop action, the Wisconsin team is also ready to go home.


“We couldn’t have asked to be put on a better mission,” Stacy said. “The experiences and knowledge from this assignment will be something we take with us forever, and the friendships we gained with our public affairs counterparts are priceless.”