GREENVILLE, S.C. — Greenville’s Civil Air Patrol (CAP) squadron is joining with other units of the South Carolina Wing in preparing for a statewide response to the predicted landfall of Hurricane Matthew later this week.
A key role for Civil Air Patrol during this hurricane response will be flying surveillance patrols to monitor traffic flow along vital evacuation routes from the coast. Greenville aircrews have already been instructed to stand by for mission tasking as early as Wednesday, Oct. 5.
“We will provide air and ground crews, as well as mission support staff to perform damage assessment, transport of equipment and supplies and monitoring of overall operations,” said Major Ron Hardgrave, Commander of CAP’s Greenville Composite Squadron. “We are always ready to respond to emergencies, but the possibility of a hurricane impact brings us to a heightened state of alert.”
Based at Greenville Downtown Airport, the Greenville Composite Squadron is responsible for a broad range of emergency support, including air and ground search and rescue. During the 2015 floods in the Midlands and Low Country, Greenville Composite Squadron sent aircrews from the Upstate to fly damage assessment sorties on behalf of FEMA along impacted river routes. The unit also sent mission support staff to the South Carolina Wing’s Incident Command center in West Columbia.
Similar support may be required both before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in the Carolinas and in its aftermath.
“Our rescue work and aid are provided during floods, hurricanes, blizzards and other emergencies,” said Lt. Christopher Chapman, Emergency Services Officer for the Greenville-based squadron. “Civil Air Patrol strives to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency services missions, including search and rescue, disaster relief, homeland security and humanitarian services.”
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer auxiliary of the United States Air Force, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which comprises regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. CAP is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually.