NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – The first of what will be several flights from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to the U.S. Virgin Islands departed Monday morning, carrying two dozen National Guardsmen and equipment to help those impacted by recent hurricanes.
The 24 members of the 105th Military Police Company will be joined by dozens of others from their unit, as well as about ten State Troopers, to provide help to local law enforcement in the Virgin Islands and to provide humanitarian aid.
“A lot of those people lost everything that they have, so to be able to go down there and assist them and help any way we can, we’re happy to do so,” said Staff Sergeant Eric Sheffer before boarding the plane Monday morning.
“They’re in pretty dire need. They don’t really have much. They don’t have much water, they don’t have much food. The resources that they do have are incredibly limited so we’re excited to get down there and do what we can to help them,” agreed another member of the 105th Military Police Company, Specialist Jason Staffieri.
The 105th Military Police were originally scheduled to go to the Virgin Islands in the wake of Irma earlier this month, but then Hurricane Maria barreled through that region, forcing them to delay their departure. The unit has taken advantage of the delay to prepare for this deployment.
“For the last ten days or so, we’ve been conducting a lot of training at our armory in Buffalo, getting any supplies and everything that we needed to go down there to assist with the mission,” explained Staff Sergeant Sheffer.
The Guardsmen will spend about two weeks in the U.S. Virgin Islands doing what they can to help. “I’ve been in for 12 years. This is kind of a first kind of a mission that we’ve been able to go outside the continental United States, even though it is a U.S. territory, so this is something that we signed up for to eventually take part in,” Sheffer said. “It’s definitely going to be reward to be able to help those people down there.”
“It’s been a long week and a half or so prepping to go and we’re anxious to get down there and help out,” Staffieri added.
This deployment is one of several ongoing efforts to help those who have been impacted by the recent hurricanes.
The National Guard is also helping facilitate a statewide donation drive to collect critical supplies for people in Puerto Rico who were hit hard by Maria. Click here to learn more about how you can help with that.