Lt. Gen Todd T. Semonite, commanding general of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, said Friday on “Fox & Friends First” the entire Department of Defense has been put on standby for Hurricane Florence.
“The most important thing is to let everybody know the entire Department of Defense is on standby. I was in yesterday in meetings with the Secretary of Defense’s staff,” Semonite said. “We’re going to get at least over 7,000 people ready to respond today, mainly on search and rescue.”
He also said the chief of staff for the Army is involved in Hurricane preparations for Florence and has soldiers and helicopters ready to be deployed. (RELATED: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Calls For Bipartisanship And Unity Ahead Of Hurricane Florence)
“The chief of staff of the army Gen. [Mark] Milley brought all of the army leadership in, all the commanders and said, anticipate where we could be needed to step up,” he continued. “So we’ve got over 4,000 soldiers right next to Fort Bragg there. We’ve got over 83 helicopters. The army is ready to be able to jump in and respond.”
Semonite highlighted the concern surrounding the damns in North Carolina and said the corp of engineers will be inspecting them with local leaders, to see if any structural work will be required.
“We’ve got teams already deployed on the ground,” he said. “You talk about the dams. That’s probably one of the things we’re most concerned about. And while it might not happen in the next couple hours, we’ve got about 8,000 dams that are in the Carolinas. There’s a percentage of those — and again these are not necessarily corps of engineers dams but local and state dams that we’re able to go in and flex.”
“We’ve got assessment teams ready to go in if a local mayor thinks he’s got a problem, we can go in and inspect those dams. We’ve got a lot of technical knowledge. And if in fact we see any kind of a rift or degradation of a structure — we’ve got reaction teams that can actually go in and help local officials to be able to do that,” Semonite concluded.
“We work for FEMA. Wherever FEMA sees a requirement from the local team, the corp is ready to respond.”
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