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NY National Guard assists in Isaias storm response

By Eric Durr | New York National Guard | Aug. 12, 2020

CARMEL, N.Y. – New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen delivered water, ice and dry ice to Putnam County residents and removed debris in Queens Aug. 6-8 in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias.

With 703,191 utility customers without power Aug. 5, the morning after the storm, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared an emergency in multiple areas of the state.

Cuomo directed Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, to mobilize and deploy 50 Soldiers and Airmen to assist Putnam County officials.

Another 27 Soldiers and Airmen from Joint Task Force Empire Shield, the security augmentation force in New York City, were directed to assist in clearing debris in Queens County.

During the mission, the team in Putnam County delivered 28,800 bottles of water, 630 bags of dry ice, and 260 bags of ice.

The 53rd Troop Command mobilized 20 Soldiers, while the 105th Airlift Wing mobilized 30 Airmen to support the mission and another 10 Airmen to handle headquarters functions.

The personnel were divided into two strike teams and dispatched to link up with Putnam County emergency management officials on Aug. 6.

One team conducted five traffic control missions in Putnam Valley. Another team worked on Route 6 in Mahopec, delivering 16,800 bottles of water, 350 bags of dry ice and 150 bags of ice to several locations.

On Aug. 7, the only missions were for water and ice delivery, so the 20 Soldiers from the 53rd Troop Command’s 101st Expeditionary Signal Brigade ended their mission.

Thirty Airmen from the 105th Airlift Wing delivered 12,000 bottles of water, 280 bags of dry ice and 110 bags of ice to three locations Aug. 7.

Joint Task Force Empire Shield’s debris clearance team, meanwhile, used 20 chain saws to cut up and remove debris throughout Queens.

Residents would report downed trees to the city’s 311 number and the city parks department would direct the Soldiers and Airmen to the location, said 2nd Lt. Peter Morel, a member of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, who served as officer in charge of the mission.

In some instances, it would be small tree down across a driveway, Morel said. In other cases, the team had to remove big trees down across several lanes of the road or several cars.

While the Putnam County mission wrapped up Aug. 8, the debris clearance mission lasted until Aug. 11, Morel said.