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Members of the U.S. Coast Guard's Huntington Unit are shown May 23, 2018, at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington. Pictured from left are Lenn Pitt, Michael Nunnery, Dimitri Georgopoulos, Daniel Rynard and Zach Butterfield. The unit has deployed to Greensboro, N.C., ahead of Hurricane Florence.

HUNTINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit of Huntington has deployed to Greensboro, North Carolina, ahead of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm expected to make landfall by at least Thursday.

In somewhat perfect timing, the swift-water rescue team completed exercises and training skills last week when the hurricane was just a distant threat, said Chris Blank, public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard in Huntington. They got the call Tuesday to deploy for a staging area in North Carolina, where they will await further instructions.

The crew has with them shallow-water pumps designed to gain quick access to neighborhoods and divert floodwaters in the event of a rescue.

“We have no idea where the hurricane is going to hit, but we do know the Coast Guard is ready,” Blank said.

The crew from Huntington was deployed last year to deal with the fallout of Hurricane Harvey, one of the costliest and most catastrophic hurricanes on record. Blank said only one member of the crew is new and this will be that member’s first hurricane experience.

In the event of flooding in West Virginia, the Coast Guard would have teams moved to aid in recovery at home, he said.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Emergency Management announced Wednesday it was sending swift-water rescue teams to Raleigh, North Carolina.

North Carolina officials requested assistance from Kentucky because of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact between the two states, according to a news release issued by Kentucky Emergency Management. The agreement is a contractual obligation to offer mutual assistance between states in emergencies.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.


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