169th Security Forces Squadron lends helping hand during hurricane

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- The 169th Security Forces Squadron stationed here sent 13 Law Enforcement Specialists to Bluffton, S.C., Oct. 9, 2016 to assist in the response to the damage left after Hurricane Matthew skirted the coast of the state.

"While doing law enforcement duties, we ensured the general safety and welfare of the citizens of South Carolina," said Master Sgt. Avery Weaver, the swing-shift supervisor assigned to the 169th Security Forces Squadron.

Hurricane Matthew was a Category 4 Hurricane that affected the eastern coastline from Florida to Virginia leaving wide-spread flooding and power outages. Many residents chose to evacuate inland and were waiting for the waters to recede before returning home.

"We got tasked with securing a couple of high schools that were being used as evacuation shelters," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kenvyn Lewis, a flight sergeant assigned to the 169th Security Forces Squadron. "The National Guard was everywhere along the coast and people were very appreciative and continually thanking us for all we were doing."

The Security Forces team from McEntire split into two groups, with half sent to Battery Creek High School and half to Bluffton High School, where they performed routine perimeter walks, helped displaced residents with their belongings and offered support when needed.

"I made my presence known by walking the halls of the school," said Lewis. "I listened to people who needed to talk and played with kids who wanted attention. I simply provided a calm presence to those who had nowhere else to go."

"It was important that we could assist in Bluffton, because a lot of people don't know our capabilities, or that we can provide assistance," said Weaver.