HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Coast Guard team dispatched to the Carolinas to assist with efforts regarding Hurricane Florence has returned to West Virginia.

The team spent two weeks in North Carolina and one week in South Carolina to assist with recovery efforts.

According to Chief of Response Dan Rynard, the team, when based in Lumberton, North Carolina, covered a 2,800 square-mile area with a population of 250,000 people. The group was responsible for assisting with evacuations and rescue missions as needed.

“We’ve deployed on several hurricane and flood events over the last couple of years,” he said. “I don’t know for sure if climate change is driving it, but it sure seems to be that the floods across the Midwest and across the nation are becoming more severe.”

Rynard said once the response to the immediate act is over, their services are no longer needed.

“The Coast Guard is not there for the rebuild,” he said. “We’re there usually before the storm hits. We’re there to get people through the storm and make sure they survive through the storm. Once that happens, some of our other governmental agencies come in and lead the recovery.”

Rynard said the Coast Guard stresses teams being ahead of storms and building relationships in impacted communities and law enforcement prior to a storm’s landfall.

“That’s a big change we saw this year in regards to the Florence response,” he said.

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