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NEWS | Nov. 4, 2012

From fuel to food: the New York National Guard provides a helping hand to neighbors in need

By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy National Guard Bureau

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Members of the New York National Guard worked to distribute critically needed fuel throughout the New York City area as residents and local authorities continue with clean up and recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast.

The fuel was provided by FEMA and distributed at Guard Armories in Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn as a response to gas stations and other infrastructure being shut down as a result of Sandy.

"It's a great mission for the National Guard in that it's a humanitarian mission," said Air Force Capt. Ryan Abbott, with the New York Air National Guard's 152nd Air Operations Group, who oversaw distribution operations at the Staten Island Armory. "We're out there with the populace and letting them know that the Guard is here to take care of you."

Fuel distribution isn't the only mission that Abbott and those at the armory have been taking on.

"We just had one of our patrols come back and they were just in one of the worst hit areas of Staten Island helping to distribute food, water some much needed clothing and blankets, especially because the weather is getting much colder out here," said Abbott.

For Abbott, it's missions like this that led him to enlist in the Air Guard.

"This is one of the reasons why I joined the Guard and I didn't go on active duty," he said. "I wanted to be part of that humanitarian mission for my state when I was called upon and for me this is the first time in a long time that I've gotten to do that."

Abbott said the reception by the local community has been overwhelming.

"The feedback we're getting from the community is great," he said. "There has been such a huge outpouring of support for us—the Guard. A lot of people try and bring us items and help us out, where in turn we're here to help them. It's much appreciated that they offer it to us, but we in turn take it and distribute it amoungst everybody else (in the community)."

That outpouring of support goes throughout the community said Abbott.

"Our guys that have been on patrol have seen houses that the watermark is on the second floor of the outside of the house. We go to approach the people in the house to see how they're doing and if they need anything and those people are more concerned about the people lower down on the island than they are (and more affected).

For Abbott, it comes back to simply helping the community.

"A lot of us that joined the Guard, we joined to take care of those at home and New York is home, we're here taking care of our folks."