Young members of Aiken's Civil Air Patrol unit, in the wake of Hurricane Darion, were among would-be responders who wound up being able to conserve their time and resources Friday, as they were not called into action, due to the hurricane's relatively low level of damage in South Carolina.
The hurricane, which caused dozens of deaths in the Bahamas and several more in the United States, inflicted property damage on coastal South Carolina but did not cause as much grief in the state as some authorities had suggested could easily occur.
CAP members held a meeting Thursday evening at Millbrook Baptist Church, with the agenda including a discussion of activities that might take place the next day, in Columbia, including dispatching flights along the South Carolina coastline to survey and take pictures of the post-hurricane situation. Effects included a power outage involving about 200,000 people, along with flooded streets and a variety of storm debris.
Adult members Billy Wilson, Jim Harris and Norwood Bodie represented the Aiken group in Columbia Friday, as did some cadets from such communities as Walterboro, Lexington, Charleston, Sumter and Myrtle Beach.
Cadets in Aiken and elsewhere undergo periodic training, which is a requirement for participation in search-and-rescue missions. The Aiken unit was reestablished in December 2018, and the national organization dates back to a few days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
CAP is described on its website as "a premier public service organization that still carries out emergency service missions when needed — in the air and on the ground."
It handles a variety of missions, "and today’s adults and cadets perform their duties with the same vigilance as its founding members — preserving CAP’s 75-year legacy of service while maintaining its commitment to nearly 1,500 communities nationwide," the website adds.
Aiken resident Leah Allen, one of the Aiken unit's most experienced young members, said Friday's assignments could have focused on such topics as helping clear street debris or providing food and water or medical help for people in hard-hit areas. In the United States, the hurricane made landfall on the Outer Banks Friday morning, blasting several North Carolina communities.
The Columbia-based group, according to a CAP press release, was "operating a communications network state-wide, setting up computer networks for uploading the thousands of photographs which will be taken throughout the response, and planning for future operations."