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NEWS | Nov. 21, 2012

N.Y. Guard to help Sandy victims over Thanksgiving holiday

By Col. Richard Goldenberg New York National Guard

NEW YORK - As Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 1,100 members of the New York National Guard continue their support of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts or augment New York City law enforcement at transportation centers for the single largest travel day in the nation.

Nearly 900 Guard Soldiers continue to support recovery operations in New York City, conducting door-to-door wellness checks in Far Rockaway. The National Guard, working in partnership with local authorities, visited more than 850 residences to assess local needs.

Other Soldiers will assist in the delivery of holiday meals to storm-affected families at 14 distribution centers as well as logistical support to city relief centers on Staten Island and Far Rockaway.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo coordinated thousands of food items donated by Costco, Delta, ShopRite and Walmart to be packed and delivered by the National Guard Soldiers to impacted New Yorkers in New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley on Wednesday.

Cuomo visited the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence, Nassau County and the Rockaway Point Fire Department in Breezy Point, Queens on Wednesday to help distribute dinners.

"This Thanksgiving, we wanted to ensure that New Yorkers impacted by the storm can still celebrate the holiday with their loved ones," Cuomo said.

More than 250 other members of the New York National Guard's standing security force in New York City, known as Joint Task Force Empire Shield, returned to their security duties this week after three weeks of rescue and storm recovery efforts.

The task force Soldiers and Airmen will rejoin New York Police Department, Port Authority of New York New Jersey Police and other law enforcement agencies in security arrangements aimed at protecting holiday travelers.

The New York National Guard members will be on duty at key transportation sites, such as JFK airports, Grand Central Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

New York has had National Guardsmen on duty full-time in New York City assisting with security since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.