Soldiers Provide Relief to Hurricane Responders
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- In response to the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division deployed to New York City and New Jersey to support refueling operations throughout the impacted area.
Support Soldiers with the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are using a training area near Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, or JBMDL, as their base of operations. From there, convoys of fuel trucks roll out to various locations affected by the massive hurricane to provide desperately-needed fuel.
Soldiers in A Company, 710th BSB are operating out of Fort Hamilton, N.Y. From that base of operations, the company has a fuel point set up for government and emergency response vehicles to receive free fuel to continue responding to emergencies and other needs around the city.
"This is absolutely critical to have (those) fueling operations," said William Hansel, task force safety officer at Fort Hamilton. "That speeds up operations and keeps the first responders and the people on the ground (able to) accomplish the mission."
The company also runs daily missions to various locations throughout the city to refuel emergency vehicles that are spearheading the relief and recovery missions throughout the borough of Brooklyn.
"We're providing some gasoline to emergency responders, (and) Department of Defense officials that are in the area, as well as providing diesel to them," said Capt. Johnny Ballam, commander of A Company.
One of A Company's fuel trucks could be seen directly outside of Battery Park in Manhattan, supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' mission there by providing them with much-needed fuel for their vehicles.
Despite the extensive damage caused by the storm to the area, the city and its residents are recovering, with the help of emergency responders and Support Soldiers from 710th BSB.
"It's New York City, they are very resilient. They have been through 9/11. They are recovering. There are some outlying areas not Manhattan specific, but there are some other areas that are really suffering right now," said Hansel.
Since establishing their fuel point at Fort Hamilton last Wednesday, more than 50 vehicles have received fuel.
"We were brought here to Fort Hamilton to provide fuel support to emergency vehicles, government personnel, things like that, so they can go out and help the public," said 2nd Lt. Joseph Feathers, 3rd platoon leader, Supply Support Activity in A company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion. "Everyone has been really grateful, they are happy to see us, kind of surprised to see us sometimes."
While the 710th BSB Soldiers only received word of this mission just days prior to deploying, they were still able to react quickly and move on with the mission.
"We came in Saturday afternoon -- the leadership and the staff -- and we began planning through that," Ballam said. "We mobilized some troops Saturday evening to help prep vehicles. Sunday, all day was preparation and staging. We ended up rolling Monday, when the official order came out. I think the response time was very rapid; it was very quick and I think it was efficient."
Soldiers working from Fort Hamilton are running 24-hour operations at the fuel point, and live out of two empty apartments that were provided by the military installation, and sleeping in cots, sometimes five people to one room. Despite the long work hours and somewhat austere living conditions, the Soldiers remain motivated and ready to assist.
"They are doing great. They are very motivated and happy to be here and help out," Feathers said.
"I think this is a great opportunity for them to not only support the local community and the community of New York City in a time of need, but it's a great opportunity for them to do their jobs and their military functions," Ballam said.