Hurricane Florence could impact people across South Carolina this week, regardless of their background or job.
It has already had an effect on James Smith, the Democrat who is running for governor.
The 51-year-old Smith was activated for duty in the National Guard because of Hurricane Florence, both his campaign and the the military organization confirmed to The State Tuesday.
The Columbia attorney is a U.S. Army combat veteran, who received a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan. He is also a major in the S.C. Army National Guard, The State reported in the past.
On Tuesday, Smith was working at the Joint Operations Center of the S.C. Emergency Management Division, in West Columbia.
“People of our state should rest well knowing the professionals that are in this building and all across South Carolina” working to protect the state, Smith told The State. “I’m just one of so many.”
He added: “There’s a lot here being brought to bear on this hurricane.”
Smith has been involved with the state’s response in hurricanes past. On Tuesday, he said his role this time around will focus on syncing up requests for resources across the state.
He even ran into Gov. Henry McMaster, his opponent in November’s election.
“It was great to see him,” Smith said to The State. “You know, it’s one team. One fight. Team S.C. ... I was having lunch ... he saw me before I saw him, and he sort of greeted me, and I said, ‘Hello, governor. Great to be on team S.C. together.’ I have a huge and a great deal of confidence in Team S.C. and those that are here to respond.”
McMaster’s campaign had no comment on the meeting.
The State reported Monday that both Smith and the Republican McMaster have suspended all campaign activities until further notice as the state prepares for Hurricane Florence.
Smith was activated when McMaster declared a state of emergency Saturday, which allowed the governor the use of the National Guard for hurricane preparations.
The Democratic hopeful is one of 2,000 soldiers and airmen to be mobilized across South Carolina in advance of Hurricane Florence, according to S.C. National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cindi King.
The State previously reported that Smith was a Judge Advocate General officer for eight years in the S.C. Army National Guard, but he resigned his officer’s commission and enlisted in the infantry after visiting Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York City.
In February 2007, Smith deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry officer as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to The State, which reported he served about a year commanding a nine-man team as a combat adviser to Afghan security forces in remote parts of the country.
Another prominent S.C. politician was also activated by the National Guard following McMaster’s declaration.
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has been activated as the state’s Judge Advocate General Officer, the Republican’s spokesman Robert Kittle told The State.
Kittle said that Wilson has also been working at the S.C. Emergency Management Division, where he will remain this week.