NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - Thousands of National Guard members are answering the call to duty in the disaster region, including 75 from the 107th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls.
Guard members shipped out on Tuesday night from the air base to lend a helping hand with the massive cleanup Hurricane Sandy left behind in New York City. The guardsmen from western New York will assist local authorities responding to the unprecedented disaster downstate.
Wing Commander Col. Jim McCready said, "Helping displaced personnel with feeding and maybe getting them back into their housing, or maybe even in some rescue efforts, bringing them out of some of the flood-stricken areas."
All the guardsmen volunteered for this job, saying they felt a sense of duty to help out fellow New Yorkers.
Lt. Col. Ken Kieliszek said, "For me, it really gives me a great sense of pride that we can help the citizens of New York State. When people need help, we are going to be able to be there to give them whatever support that they need."
The 75 airmen at the base are among the 2,300 guardsmen across the state called up by Governor Andrew Cuomo to help out with the disaster in New York City. Some of the volunteers are veterans of a recovery mission like this, having previously helped with Hurricane Irene last year.
1st Lt. Cory Bota said, "Last year we had Hurricane Irene. We were prepared for that. We had a mission for that as well. As far as deploying overseas, it is something we do as well always, but we are always preparing for something, and always ready to do."
MSgt. Laura Thomas added, "There is helping with security sometimes. You know, making sure people don't go down streets they are not supposed to, things like that. Just trying to help keep the citizens protected from any dangers that might be around the corner that they don't know about."
Governor Cuomo is joined by 10 other governors along the East Coast in calling up their respective National Guard units. Those emergency declarations are activating 7,400 citizen soldiers to help recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy's massive destruction.
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