It was the middle of the school day on Wednesday, Sept. 12 when Jack Hogue, West Henderson EC teacher, received the phone call that would lead him to travel for three hours to the Charlotte area in anticipation for Hurricane Florence. As a member of the U.S. Air National Guard, Hogue was deployed to Stanley County, NC in efforts to help the coastal residents who had been affected by the flooding.
“When I received the call, I was given a five hour window to get there,” Hogue said. “I had to quickly get a sub for my class and clear it with all of the administration. Luckily I already had my bags packed because they had given us a warning in advance that we may get called. So they activated me but I didn’t get to say goodbye to my daughter who was in daycare at the time which was disappointing.”
Hogue’s desire to serve lead him to join the force directly after college. The Air National Guard, according to Hogue, has a dual purpose: to fight along with the Air Force, but also to serve the country in states of emergency.
“The area that I was activated in was a hub for all of the operations. There were fire rescue teams from across the country, search teams, forces with the Army, National Guard, Air National Guard, Coast Guard, different police forces and the prison SWAT team was even out there,” Hogue said.
Alongside many other teams of emergency personnel, Hogue worked as a supply officer in the warehouses to gather and send supplies to those who had been devastated by the flood waters. Sending out 144 tons of water and 30 tons of meals ready to eat, Hogue experienced firsthand the desperate need of support for those on the coast.
“There were a lot of communities that were flooded, not because of the initial rains, but all of the rainfall from across the state was trying to make its way back to the ocean,” Hogue said. “All of that water was clogging up in different locations which is what caused the flooding. The roads were closed all over the coast which means they couldn’t get supplies and that’s why we were called in. Everyone was in a major state of emergency.”
Although Hogue spent most of his time in the warehouse, he was given the opportunity to go on helicopter missions and see the flooding from a new perspective. After working to package supplies for those affected and getting to experience the damage caused by Florence, Hogue saw the demand for things that many may not expect would be needed.
“I think that the strongest needs are commodities that you don’t think of like toilet paper, diapers, formula, or toothpaste,” Hogue said. “Most of the people affected have stocked up on meals and water so what they really need are the little things that we don’t think about when we use them every day.”
Having been affected by the storm himself, leaving his job and family to go serve those who lived closer to the damage, Hogue said it is crucial to understand the urgency surrounding warnings from experts.
“People need to realize how important it is to listen to the authorities about evacuation,” Hogue said. “That could even happen here, we’ve had flooding before where authorities advised evacuation to some. So many of our missions could have been avoided if people had just listened when they were warned, it needs to be taken more seriously.”
By: Lauren Mullis