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Military offers humanitarian relief in wake of devastating hurricanes

The 3d Airlift Squadron's Reach 7170 crew and 123rd Contingency Response Group Airmen unload food and water from a C-17 Globemaster III to be distributed to hurricane survivors at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 30, 2017.
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Davis/The 3d Airlift Squadron's Reach 7170 crew and 123rd Contingency Response Group Airmen unload food and water from a C-17 Globemaster III to be distributed to hurricane survivors at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 30, 2017. Reach 7170 delivered 118 thousand pounds of meals ready to eat and bottled water to be distributed throughout a devastated Puerto Rico with the help of Airmen from the 123rd Contingency Response Group.

In the wake of what has so far been a devastating hurricane season, the U.S. military, FEMA, and numerous other groups have been working hard to deliver relief and aid to the Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Last week, Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford reported on the U.S. Air Force C-17 crew, the BEEliners, as they brought aid to the residents of St. Croix. The BEEliners arrived on the island after delivering a team from USAID to Mexico City for another mission. Swafford writes that “the aircrew successfully and efficiently brought 105,000 pounds of needed food and water to the residents of the island.”

The Air National Guard is working on setting up communication systems in the Virgin Islands, to improve communication and thus the efficiency and effectiveness of relief missions. Tech Sgt. Jeremy Farson writes that “the goal of the unit is to help transform the communication infrastructure from not having telephones soon after the storm, to being able to communicate with Puerto Rico and mainland United States, in order to establish a pipeline of basic supplies to the people of the islands.”

The Team Dover Airmen have flown to multiple sites in order to deliver supplies and personnel: “The humanitarian mission made stops at Fort Carson and MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, before landing at Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands as day turned to night. Once cargo and personnel were unloaded, with the help of 133rd Airlift Wing aerial porters, Reach 7170 was airborne again, only this time to Kelly Air Field, Texas, to get some much needed crew rest and then off to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The crew was again ready and willing to provide that crucial aid the hurricane survivors so desperately needed.”

Currently, FEMA is working on registering locals in Puerto Rico in order to efficiently distribute resources. Though registration usually takes place online, the lack of power on the island has led to a need to look into different approaches. Pfc Christina Westfall reports, “Soldiers from the 544th Military Police Company out of Ramey Base, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, helped with the registration process by working in conjunction with FEMA and state troopers to help with the flow of people coming in for registration.”

For more information on these stories, read the articles below, and search for more at the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS).

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