BROOKLYN - A local Army National Guard troop is doing its part to help the victims of superstorm Sandy.
Bravo Troop 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry out of Jamestown has 200 National Guardsman currently deployed to Brooklyn, N.Y. in support of relief operations following last week's superstorm. The troop is under the command of Capt. Jeffrey Kelley, out of the Armory on Porter Avenue in Jamestown.
The cavalry is headquartered in Niagara Falls, with armories located across Western and Central New York. It was called upon by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assist with relief efforts in southern Brooklyn and Queens. Already, the 2/101 Cavalry has delivered nearly 150,000 meals and 70,000 bottles of water, as well as 15,000 blankets in conjunction with FEMA and the Red Cross. The troop has been in Brooklyn since Oct. 30.
Bravo Troop 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry out of Jamestown has 200 National Guardsman currently deployed to Brooklyn in support of relief operations following last week’s superstorm.
"The guys from in and around Jamestown from Bravo Troop are conducting humanitarian assistance in the form of handing out food, water and supplies to people who were devastated along the coastal regions and Coney Island, which is part of Brooklyn, as well as up in the Red Hook neighborhood," said Maj. Jon Mellott.
"They are handing out food, water, baby formula, diapers, anything that comes in. They are also, in conjunction with the NYPD, conducting presence patrols, in order to help increase the safety in those affected areas."
Merely 24 hours after receiving the command from Cuomo, the troopers arrived in the midst of the storm. Mellott said the coastal areas, along Coney Island and Queens, had a large storm surge, which brought in massive flood waters and, in some cases, destroyed homes. Additionally, the troopers have been of assistance in Queens, where fires broke out.
"With some of the assistance that we have provided, it has allowed people to begin the cleanup effort, with the assistance of massive state, local and federal efforts to begin the cleanup," Mellott said. "But, the goods that we provided allowed the people to be there and to continue to remain in their homes, as long as their home was safe, structurally, while this cleanup has been going on."
The cleanup is still progressing. According to Mellott, there are still large amounts of trash and debris in the area, as people work to clear out their homes and begin to rebuild. Mellott credited the quick response by the unit, as well as the response of others, for helping the immediate need of Brooklyn residents.
The troopers have set up distribution sites, primarily at neighborhood playgrounds, for residents to pick up food and supplies. However, some shut-ins, elderly residents and residents with disabilities were unable to get to the distribution locations.
"Some of our Bravo Troopers had heard of that and actually carried food up to these folks," Mellott said. "In many cases, we're talking about large apartment buildings, and there's actually no power at all in these areas, there's still no electric in them. So, they're going up flights and flights, 10, 11 stories, bringing up food and water to people who needed it."
He called the troopers very gracious and polite, which has earned what Mellott called an "excellent" response from residents from the Brooklyn area.
"There's a number of people in the Jamestown community and the surrounding community that have been a part of that organization, either presently or in the past," he said. "We have always had a great participation in the unit from that area. That is representative of the dedication of duty and the readiness to help others that that area has demonstrated by the continuing service and supporting of that unit."
The Bravo troop with remain in Brooklyn for as long as the chain of command requires.