Soldiers deliver aid to New Yorkers

Delaware National Guard supplies emergency aid
Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala addresses the soldiers of the 1049th at the Delaware Bay Authority Plaza as they prepare to depart for New York in support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. BY US ARMY SERGEANT 1ST CLASS WILLIAM GATES
November 16, 2012

Ross Hicks saw firsthand what happened after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York City.

The Delaware Army National Guard specialist from Lewes traveled with 107 members of the Delaware National Guard on a mission to distribute food and water.

"We were in a small community near the water's edge and I could see the boardwalk was totally wiped out," Hicks said.  "I kept thinking it could have been us. It almost hit us."

As soon as the guard trucks stopped in a storm-hit area, long lines formed as residents sought help.

"This is why I am in the Army National Guard - to help people out," Hicks said.

Also on the mission was Specialist Jermaine Sountain of Millsboro, who delivered to shelters and towns.

"For the most part, people were calm, but in some neighborhoods, it could be a bit hectic until people got into lines," Sountain said. "Most of the time, people were already waiting in line for the supplies."

Specialist Drew Ecrement of Millsboro drove one of the many fuel trucks headed to New York to help refuel emergency vehicles. He drove into one neighborhood where many houses burned to the ground.

"It was really a mess," Ecrement said.

Capt. Marc Evans said the guardsmen were part of a quick-reaction force, which meant they were on call for 10 days. If an emergency call came in, it was the Delaware guard that loaded up and headed to where they were needed, Evans said.

"People can get around in most places, but there are some areas where houses were lost, and sand is hindering transportation," Evans said.

Over the next week, Ohio National Guard and American Red Cross will be taking over the emergency response needs in New York, Evans said.

On Nov. 13, Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala addressed the Delaware Guard’s 1049th Transportation Company as it prepared to transport and distribute commodities to citizens of New York who are still without power two weeks after the storm.

Headquartered in Seaford, the 1049th returned in May from a yearlong tour in Afghanistan.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our soldiers for supporting the citizens of New York this past week,” said Vavala, adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard. “What they did truly made a difference for countless Americans.”

For information or to view the pictures from the New York mission, visit Delaware National Guard on Facebook.