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Hurricane Florence Support

Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers headed to Tennessee on Thursday so they could be nearby in case their help is needed for search-and-rescue operations in response to Hurricane Florence. 

The wait to help continued Friday for public and private-sector workers from Nebraska staging on the East Coast as Hurricane Florence smashed into the coast.

In North Carolina, members of Urban Search and Rescue Nebraska Task Force 1 prepared to divide into two boat rescue and evacuation teams, task force leader Roger Bonin said.

They expected heavy rains beginning Friday night could flood low-lying areas near Fayetteville, he said.

That team, like others, was awaiting being called into action.

In Tennessee, a contingent of 13 Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers and two helicopters were ready to assist relief efforts in North Carolina when weather permits, a spokesman for the National Guard said.

"We are ready at a moment's notice," Maj. Thomas Traylor, the officer in charge of the contingent, said in a telephone interview from Tyson Air National Guard Base near Knoxville.

"We understand that people are stranded already," he said, "but we can't go anywhere until those winds calm down."

Although the Guard contingent has been alerted to be prepared to fly into the Raleigh area, Traylor said, "if there are any changes, we could go anywhere we need to be."

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In Virginia, Nebraskans working for Midwest Medical Transport Company were also ready to provide ambulance support, company spokesman Rick Sheehy said.

The crews are under direction from the American Medical Response, a FEMA contractor, he said.

Midwest Medical, which also sent crews from Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota, may deploy more crews if asked, he said.

"I think people forget or don’t realize the amount of effort and deployment (from) the private sector," said Sheehy, a former Nebraska lieutenant governor.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.



Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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