By Civil Air Patrol C/MSgt Victoria Lang

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

The weekends of September 22-23 and September 29-30, I had the pleasure of serving my community alongside my squadron, the Grand Strand Composite Squadron. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly effects of what Hurricane Florence has had on Myrtle Beach and the surrounding areas.

I was tasked to a ground sortie for both days of the first weekend. The first day out we were measuring High Water Marks. As we drove further south, we started to really see the effects of Florence. It may have had a direct impact on North Carolina, but it didn’t spare South Carolina any of the devastation.

I specifically remember one location we stopped. It was a dirt road leading down to a trailer park. The road was completely flooded. When we were out of the car taking pictures for FEMA, a lady pulled onto the road from the highway and then stopped abruptly. She stared in horror at the flooded road and then buried her face in her hands crying. The man in the passenger seat tried to console her. I turned to one of the senior members to ask for an explanation of what was happening. He looked away from them and said: “that lady thought she was going home.” At that moment it hit me. I may have had to evacuate from my home but it didn’t suffer any damage. I had never lost everything precious to me. I had never lost anything. This was my first exposure with people who were truly experiencing the effects of Hurricane Florence.

The next day when we went out, I braced myself for another hard day. I thought the only thing I could glean from this event was seeing people suffer. I was surprised to see a completely different scene.

As we were going around to our targets, I noticed small groups of people. People cleaning up debris and moving furniture back into houses. To say the least, I didn’t expect that!

People were already recovering from the effects of Florence. Communities were rallying together to fix the problems that the hurricane had created. I saw a whole different side of the affected communities than I had the day before. I saw helicopters moving large loads, and police officers giving people directions to get back home. It was really incredible to see how Americans can come together to get the job done. I was shocked to hear how many other wings from CAP came to South Carolina to help us recover. Seeing the Coast Guard, police officers, and other groups work together was something I’ll never forget.

Natural disasters are devastating, there is no denying that. Among the rubble though, it gives communities the chance to come together. They test our ability to work as a team. They test our abilities as citizens of the United States of America to see past what political party we are, what color skin we have, or even what state we live in. But when we overlook these things and work together as a team, there is very little we cannot accomplish. I’d like to end with this quote:

“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood up again when the storm had passed over.” - Aesop

CAP, acting as the Air Force Auxiliary, is supporting Air Forces Northern during Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations following the landfall of Hurricane Florence on the East Coast. AFNORTH’s primary role is to support U.S. Northern Command’s efforts to provide assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Florence relief efforts.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information.