FT. BRAGG STORIES: Hurricane Florence

Oct 14, 2018

Spc. Ruben Ismael Alvarez, a parachute rigger assigned to 151st Quartermaster Company, 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Sustainment Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division carries a package of bottled water to a family in New Bern, North Carolina, Sept. 21, 2018.
Credit Pfc. Audrianna Arellano / 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade

Hundreds of soldiers aided in Hurricane Florence rescue and recovery efforts, even as some saw their own homes flooded or evacuated. 

Specialist Ruben Alvarez is a parachute rigger at Fort Bragg. During the storm, he volunteered to help evacuate houses, working long shifts with the 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

He and his crew spent 27 hours clearing neighborhoods in Hoke County.  

“This one lady, she came out to us crying because her house was pretty much ruined due to all the flooding,” he recalled. She begged for help moving her vehicles, hoping to salvage something from the water. 

Alvarez and his fellow paratroopers rescued 199 civilians and 132 pets during the storm. He said he felt humbled to be able to help so many. 


 Sergeant 1st Class Jason Ragucci was at his home with his family in North Fayetteville when Florence hit.  

“I’ve been through an earthquake, I’ve been through tornadoes, but nothing like Hurricane Florence,” he said. 

The storm drove a branch through his roof and flooded the ventilation system. As he worked to mitigate the damage, other family members and neighbors asked to shelter at his house. 

Eventually, they were all forced to move to Pine Forest High School as the Little and Cape Fear Rivers rose.  

“It was already full, but we made it work,” he recalled. 

Ragucci said his 17 years in the Army have taught him to be resilient. 

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to continue living here in Fayetteville and rebuild that house.” 

Ft. Bragg Stories is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email fortbraggstories@wunc.org.