Hurricane Sandy: How Our Military Are Responding (Updates: Marines and Guardsmen Assisting Storm-stricken New York and West Virginia)
A soldier assists a family displaced by Hurricane Sandy in Hoboken, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. The soldier is assigned to the New Jersey National Guard.(Photo DoD)
There has been such an unprecedented, timely, excellent and massive response by the U.S. military and other Department of Defense and federal agencies to Hurricane Sandy that a previous post dedicated to documenting and depicting the response has become too voluminous and unwieldy.
Marines and sailors work to repair a pier damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Hoboken, N.J., Nov. 3, 2012.
Therefore, this will be a follow-on post to continue to document — in word and image — the commendable efforts by the U.S. military and others to help those in need.
Members of the Maryland National Guard 729th Battalion Support Company and 1729th Field Support Maintenance Company help recover a utility vehicle that was stuck in the mud in Deep Creek Lake, Md., Nov. 2, 2012, following the heavy snowfall that hit Garrett County during Hurricane Sandy.
4 November Update by Marine Corps Capt. Lucas Burke, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit today are helping to clear debris in this storm-stricken community as part of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Reynoso, an automotive organizational mechanic with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and a native of New York City’s Bronx borough, assists in debris removal efforts at Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bryan Nygaard
Marine leaders from the USS Wasp, to include Marine Corps Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, the 26th MEU’s commanding officer, went airborne in an UH-1N Huey helicopter yesterday to conduct disaster relief assessments and survey damage inflicted by Sandy along southeastern Staten Island. The Huey is from Marine Light Attack Squadron 467, which is assigned to the 26th MEU.
The UH-1N is a twin-pilot, twin-engine helicopter used in command and control, resupply, casualty evacuation, liaison and troop transport operations.
The 26th MEU has been using the helicopters to survey damaged areas of Staten Island in preparation of follow-on support to local residents.
The flights have also allowed the Marines to land in the hardest-hit areas and see what local leaders and residents needed the most.
“We’ve all seen the news, but to actually walk around and talk to people about what they are going through allows us to build a clearer picture as we conduct our planning,” St. Clair said. “Despite the devastation, seeing the communities come together and help each other is motivation for us. Marines always talk about ‘One Team, One Fight’ and we’re just joining their team.”
The 26th MEU, with more than 300 Marines and sailors and 12 helicopters, has been moving gear and personnel during the past two days to the U.S. Navy amphibious ship USS Wasp, while the unit received its mission priorities and assembled capabilities prior to going ashore to assist storm-stricken residents.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter prepares to land on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). For prudent planning, the Navy has begun to preposition Wasp, USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) for primary assistance in the affected North East region if required by FEMA following the devastation brought on by Hurricane Sandy. San Antonio and Carter Hall got underway Oct. 31 from Norfolk, Va., and began transiting north to the affected areas on Nov. 1. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Markus Castaneda)
4 November Update by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein, 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard
The Federal Emergency Management Agency tapped the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing here as a staging area to push out much-needed relief supplies to West Virginia and East Coast residents hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.
West Virginia Air National Guard members assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing load pallets of blankets destined for use by Hurricane Sandy victims onto a C-130 cargo aircraft at Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base in Martinsburg, W.Va., Nov. 3, 2012. A total of 25,000 blankets were flown from the base to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. West Virginia Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Stacy Gault
Although FEMA’s stay at the Martinsburg base was brief — officially ceasing its operations here on the evening of Nov. 3 — the 167th demonstrated its vital importance in providing resources, manpower and an ideal locale to headquarter the humanitarian aid mission from in this region of the state.
FEMA operations here spun up at the beginning of the month with airmen and soldiers from the West Virginia National Guard working in tandem to ensure that emergency supplies trucked in from around the country were distributed to those in need. Some areas of West Virginia reportedly received up to 80 inches of snow.
According to Air Force Capt. Christopher T. Tusing, installation deployment officer for the 167th Airlift Wing, the unit’s airmen were assigned to work on the logistical mission of unloading water and food from FEMA trailers and loading them onto Army Guard vehicles destined for some of the hardest hit communities in the state.
“The 167th Airlift Wing provided over 56 airmen in all to support emerging Hurricane Sandy response over the last week, in direct collaboration with West Virginia Army National Guardsmen and FEMA,” Tusing said.
“Our members quickly stepped up, coordinating operations with the West Virginia Joint Operations Center in Charleston,” he said. “We provided community assessment teams and hands-on load teams to facilitate the effective distribution of numerous pallets of Meals Ready to Eat and water, and provided aide to fellow West Virginians in need.”
New York Air National Guard Master Sgt. Thomas Moade leads other members of the 174th and soldiers assigned to the New York Army Guard from Newburg in taking water and cases of food to residents in Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2012.
The collaboration “continues to illustrate the dedication and commitment levels of the men and women who serve in the joint operating environment of the West Virginia National Guard,” Tusing said.
Liaison officer teams from the wing were also sent to West Virginia’s Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties. Each team consisted of three airmen who assisted each county in its Emergency Operations Center. One of the teams was later dispatched to Upshur County.
“They [the teams] stepped forward as the wing always does and went to be a part of the solution,” Nye said of the unit’s liaison teams.
Even as FEMA began to wind down its operations on base the evening of Nov. 3, the commander said, the wing received notice that trucks carrying a total of 25,000 blankets would soon be rolling in. Some C-130 cargo aircraft from Little Rock, Ark., would fly them to New York.
Wing airmen worked into the night to load the blankets onto the C-130s. By dawn, the aircraft were en route to John F. Kennedy Airport.
“They loaded up and went before daybreak, before the rest of the world was awake,” Nye said. “Those airplanes are doing triple shuttles.”
Whether handling cargo or working another support mission, Nye said the 167th Airlift Wing’s airmen should be proud of their accomplishments.
Nov. 2 — American Forces Press Service:
President Barack Obama has directed the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to purchase up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy to supplement ongoing private-sector efforts…
This purchase will be transported by tanker trucks and distributed throughout New York, New Jersey and other communities impacted by the storm…
The DLA fuel purchase is in addition to the emergency diesel fuel loan from the Energy Department’s Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.
In related news, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano issued a temporary, blanket waiver of the Jones Act to immediately allow additional oil tankers coming from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports to provide additional fuel resources to the region, according to a DHS news release issued today.
The waiver “will remove a potential obstacle to bringing additional fuel to the storm-damaged region,” Napolitano stated in the release.
Soldiers from the 249th Engineer Battalion walk past their pumps in Battery Park in lower Manhattan, New York City, Nov. 2, 2012. The pumps are draining an underpass flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
Nov. 2 Update by the New York Times:
U.S. Military to Truck Fuel to Region Hit by Hurricane Sandy
As long lines persisted at gas stations in the New York metropolitan area, federal authorities moved Friday to restore supplies, turning to the Defense Department to deliver 24 million gallons of extra fuel to the region and lifting restrictions on deliveries by foreign-flagged ships.
With the reopening of the New York port to tankers on Thursday, and the return of a critical Northeast fuel pipeline to full capacity on Friday, the biggest outstanding problems are the lack of power at hundreds of gas stations and continued panic buying by the public, industry officials said.
As of Friday, according to AAA, only about 40 percent to 50 percent of the gasoline stations in New York City and New Jersey were operating, and even fewer on Long Island, most of them out of service because of power failures.
In conjunction with Friday’s move, the Pentagon was authorized by the Department of Energy and the White House to tap the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.
Read More Here
Air Force Senior Airman Stardust S. Santiago holds the door open for Staff Sgt. Ryan A. Osmola as they check a home to ensure no one inside is in distress on Long Beach Island, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012. Santiago and Osmola are assigned to the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, which is working with civil authorities in an effort to assist residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.(Photo USAF)
UPDATES from around the nation:
Marine Corps Times, Lejeune Marine Expeditionary Unit To Support Storm Recovery Efforts
Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed Thursday aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp to support disaster relief efforts in New York and New Jersey, just days after Hurricane Sandy’s rushing flood waters ravaged the Mid-Atlantic coastline, according to the Marine Corps.
The MEU, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., has sent about 300 Marines, mostly aircrews and maintainers to support about a dozen aircraft, logistics personnel including engineers, and a command staff, including the colonel who commands the unit. The aircraft at the MEU’s disposal include MV-22 Ospreys, CH-53 Sea Stallions and UH-1N Hueys.
“The capabilities of the 26th MEU are augmenting the larger relief efforts currently being executed at the federal, state and local level,” said Col. Matthew St. Clair, commanding officer of the 26th MEU, in a news release. “This deployment demonstrates the responsiveness of a MEU in support of a crisis and the expeditionary nature of the Navy-Marine Corps team….”
Crews load Southern California Edison trucks, which will be used in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts on the East Coast, on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft on March Air Reserve Base, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012. Military bases across the nation are mobilizing in New York and New Jersey to help restore electricity and provide humanitarian assistance.
Bloomberg.com Pentagon Sends Marines, Planeloads Of Gear To Northeast
The Pentagon deployed military equipment and personnel, including about 300 Marines and sailors and 17 planeloads of power equipment, in an expanding effort to help New Jersey and nearby states recover from superstorm Sandy.
Military transport planes with more than 600 tons of power- restoration equipment, vehicles and crew from Southern California were being sent to the northeast, Pentagon spokesman George Little said yesterday. Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina also were being deployed to the region, the Marine Corps said in an e-mailed statement…
The Pentagon is airlifting power restoration experts and trucks cross-country, from California to New York, to bolster efforts to assist the millions of people still living in darkness days after superstorm Sandy hit the U.S. Northeast.
The C-5 and C-17 military transport planes – designed to carry heavy military equipment, like tanks – began flying from March Air Reserve Base in southern California early on Thursday and were due to start arriving in the afternoon at an Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York…
Christian Science Monitor, In Sandy’s Aftermath, Military Brings Rescue Swimmers And ‘Bucket Trucks’
As the cleanup continues in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, some 12,000 National Guard troops have been mobilized to active-duty status in more than a dozen states to provide rescue and relief.
The Pentagon brings its own unique skills and equipment to the nation’s natural-disaster response. Mobilizing quickly in the wake of calamity – both forecast and unexpected – is, after all, the US military’s specialty…
The National Guard and federal emergency management officials will deliver 1 million meals and bottled water to New York areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the meals and water will go to lower Manhattan, parts of Brooklyn and Queens and will include the Rockaways that were hit by flooding and house fires.
The food and water is being flown into John F. Kennedy International Airport beginning Thursday morning and will continue as needed…
Members of the Virginia Urban Search and Rescue Task Force Two fly aboard a U.S. Army CH-47 helicopter assigned to the Georgia Army National Guard from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to Staten Island, N.Y., to conduct house-to-house searches, Nov. 3, 2012.
New Jersey will deploy military trucks to serve as polling places onElection Day in storm-battered communities, the state secretary of the state announced Thursday during a visit to this flood-ravaged town. The state is also extending the deadline on mail-in ballots.
Department of Defense trucks will be parked at regular polling places that have lost power, as long as the sites are still accessible. Paper ballots will be used.
Republican Secretary of State and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said voters will find “a DOD truck with a well-situated National Guardsman and a big sign saying, “Vote Here.”
Soldiers assist residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy in Hoboken, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the New Jersey National Guard.(Photo DoD)
From the Coast Guard:
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, Atlantic Area commander, assesses the area along the New Jersey coastline on Oct. 31, 2012. Parker and Coast Guard Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, director of Operational Logistics, conducted an aerial survey of the New Jersey coastline, New York Harbor and Long Island to assess the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Frederick
Currently, the Coast Guard’s top priority is to get the port of New York and New Jersey back to full operations. Their assessment included evaluating impacts to the maritime transportation system and Coast Guard facilities.
“The United States is a maritime nation and we rely heavily on the ports for commerce. Ninety-five percent of our goods come to us by way of [the] sea. Just about everything you purchase … most likely came through a seaport somewhere at some time,” Parker said.
“The port of New York and New Jersey is vital to our nation’s economy and we are doing everything humanly possible to get the port back to full operations. This is an all-hands-on-deck evolution,” he added.
The Coast Guard’s priorities are safety of life, to restore the local maritime transportation system — specifically in New York and New Jersey — and to effect rapid reconstitution of operations in the affected areas. Coast Guard crews continue to conduct assessments to ensure ports are safe and ready for business.
Coast Guard operations continue despite some service shore infrastructures sustaining flood damage, limited communications capacity and power outages.
U.S. Air Force:
Airmen deploy during a rainy night from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Oct. 31, 2012. The airmen, assigned to the 570th global mobility and the 60 aircraft maintenance squadrons, will work out of Stewart International Airport north of New York to maintain C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster aircraft to transport heavy equipment and utility trucks to help restore damage caused from Hurricane Sandy. (Photo USAF)
Air Force crews offload Southern California Edison power repair equipment from a C-5 Galaxy on Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2012. The Defense Department initiated the airlift operation to aid recovery efforts in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. (Photo USAF)
November 2 Update by DoD
National Guard Operations:
— Nearly 7,400 Army and Air National Guard soldiers and airmen in nine eastern states are performing communications, engineering, evacuation, medical, security, search and rescue, sheltering, debris removal and transportation missions.
— New York, with 2,632 troops; New Jersey, with 1,900 troops; Pennsylvania, with 1,225 troops; Connecticut, with 670 troops; and West Virginia, with 540 troops currently have the highest number of Guard members responding to the storm.
— Army National Guard units from North Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Georgia are providing six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters to assist search-and-rescue missions from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
— Yesterday, 50 New York Guard members evacuated residents from a structurally unsound nursing home in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn.
— The New York National Guard helped distribute 144,000 meals from 16 distribution locations they’d set up in New York City and Long Island.
— The New York Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing based at Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, NY, is receiving numerous C-17 and C-5 aircraft carrying critical civilian power restoration assets that will aid utility restoration efforts.
— The New Jersey National Guard has rescued more than 2,000 people and 200 pets from flooded areas and transported them to safety.
— The West Virginia National Guard Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package has assessed snow-damaged buildings in 14 areas throughout Nicholas County.
— New York National Guard members continue to go door-to-door visiting New York City high rises to deliver food and check on citizens.
— New Jersey National Guard members have been feeding more than 300 residents at the Menlow Park Veteran’s Home, using a mobile field kitchen.
— National Guard members throughout the area continue to clear debris so that local power and transportation teams can restore power to millions.
— The Pennsylvania National Guard is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania as a base to distribute critical supplies.
— The New Jersey National Guard is providing power generation at State Police facilities.
Status of DOD Operations:
— The USS Wasp is anchored approximately five miles off of the coast of Brooklyn. The Wasp contingent includes three MH-53E and two MH-60S helicopters with rescue swimmers. Also anchored off the coast of Brooklyn are the USS San Antonio with one Landing Craft Utility vessel and four MH-60S helicopters with rescue swimmers and the USS Carter Hall with one LCU. These vessels are prepared to support potential Defense Support of Civil Authorities missions if requested. They will also be available to provide refueling and command and control of DOD helicopter support missions in the area.
— 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit: Initial elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit came aboard the USS Wasp yesterday with more scheduled to arrive today. The total force will include six CH-53E Super Stallion and six UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopters, and 320 personnel.
— The secretary of defense approved the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration’s use of three of its National Defense Reserve Fleet vessels to berth first responders in New York City. The Training Ship Empire State is in New York and in use with 266 first responders being berthed and fed. The TS Kennedy is making preparations for movement from Massachusetts and arrives Nov. 5. The Ready Reserve Fleet Vessel SS Wright is making preparations for movement from Baltimore and is scheduled to arrive on Nov. 4.
Defense Logistics Agency:
— DLA has coordinated with a contractor to assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in assessing damage and determining requirements to restore New York and New Jersey port operations.
CLASS I Commodities (Food)
About 1.5 million meals are expected to be delivered to FEMA facilities in West Virginia by noon today, with 750,000 meals having arrived at Charleston and 750,000 en route to Martinsburg. Around 1.3 million meals are at vendors and ready for delivery.
— DLA is currently working to provide 1 million meals to New York City by Nov. 5.
CLASS III Commodities (Fuel)
— DLA is issuing fuel to the New Jersey National Guard.
— Sixty fuel trucks arrived at incident support bases at Westover Air Force Base, Mass., and McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., delivering approximately 200,000 gallons of fuel.
— About 600,000 gallons of fuel, with trucks, are available in Virginia for movement to the incident support bases and the capacity to deliver 200,000 gallons of fuel per day for 10 days.
— Meeting FEMA’s request for two generators (2,000 kilowatt-hour and 1,500 kilowatt-hour capacity for delivery at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Nov. 3. Twenty-two generators — 500 kilowatt-hour and 2,000 kilowatt hour — will be delivered to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on Nov. 3 from North Carolina, Texas and Florida.
— Sixty-nine pumps are scheduled to arrive at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ: Two 68,000 gallons-per-minute pumps and an additional 21 pumps of between 900-2,800 gallons-per-minute capacity are scheduled to arrive today. The remaining pumps of between 900-2,800 gallons-per-minute capacity are scheduled to arrive over the weekend.
— Twenty-five generators are en route to Lakehurst Naval Air Station today, and 22 are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow.
Army Corps of Engineers:
Army Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, chief of the Corps of Engineers, has toured the affected areas in New York City and northern New Jersey, met with governmental leaders, and received updates on current and emerging requirements for power and unwatering.
— Hoboken New Jersey Terminal: The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, New Jersey Transit, New York City Waterways and others, conducted a joint site assessment survey yesterday. Corps of Engineers personnel will visit the Hoboken terminal today, to determine if a temporary generator can be safely installed. The PATH station at the terminal has been drained, but the tubes remain flooded.
— The Corps of Engineers is also working options and analysis of the Hoboken Terminal Pier Refinery Download Point, scoping the mission and working contractor options.
— The Corps of Engineers has technical pumping and drainage expertise on the ground with state and city leaders, and engineers to advise on removing water from critical infrastructure.
— Pumping is underway in New York City at Battery Park Underpass/West Street Underpass and the Holland Tunnel.
— The Corps of Engineers developed the technical plans to start pumping operations at the following sites: Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Jersey City PATH Train Tunnel, World Trade Center Site, South Ferry Station, Montague Tunnel, 14th Street Tunnel, and 53rd Street Tunnel.
— The Corps of Engineers is completing site assessments for the Rockaway Waste Water Treatment Plant and the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission.
— The Corps of Engineers shipped 12 8-inch and 13 6-inch pumps to support drainage operations. The Corps of Engineers is tracking the arrival of 69 additional pumps from DLA.
Temporary Emergency Power:
— The Corps of Engineers is supporting the emergency temporary power mission in New York and New Jersey. The Corps of Engineers has 319 generators staged at forward locations.
— Corps of Engineers power teams conducted 74 of 84 requested assessments and installed 14 power generators. Most of these generators have been installed at hospitals and nursing homes.
— The 249th Engineer Battalion is preparing to move a 13-megawatt power package via convoy from Fort Belvoir, Va., to support Consolidated Edison. This system will be plugged into ConEd’s East River grid
— Additional 249th Engineer Battalion personnel were deployed last night to support anticipated missions in Ohio and Connecticut.
Unless otherwise noted, all Images, captions and sources: Department of Defense