NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Some members of our local military are in the New York City area, doing what they can to make life better for survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Cuomo approved the activation of 75 members of the 107th Air National Guard Airlift Wing at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base.
The service members there have a lot of disaster relief experience. Last year, they assisted in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and the unit also responded to the horrific events in New York City on 9/11.
Before they left to head downstate to communities north of Manhattan, some had a feeling this mission would be different.
"We'll probably do things that we've never done before, but that's what we volunteer to do, [they] need help we'll be there to help," said Sgt. Laura Thomas, who is part of the effort.
The unit was deployed first to the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh and then traveled to Peekskill, which is in Westchester County. According to NYSEG, Westchester is the hardest hit county in the state in terms of power outages. 96 percent of residents are in the dark and more than 31,000 people have been affected.
"Some might be doing road clearing, traffic control, helping displaced personnel with feeding and getting them back in their housing or doing some rescue missions and getting them out of flood-stricken areas," said Col. Jim McCready of the 107th Airlift Wing.
It's unclear how long the unit will be deployed. Service members could stay together in the county or could be split up.
"We're happy to do it, that's our job, last night, watching the storm, all the people it affected, we knew this was coming we're prepared for it," said Lt. Cory Bota, who will also assist in the cleanup.
"[We're] ready for anything, ready to help out and do what we can," said Sgt. Michael Cappello, before getting aboard a cargo carrier to head east.
Many at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base walk and talk with a sense of pride - that this unit has been called on again to rise to the challenges that this mission will present. And, help make whole the lives of those who have survived or perhaps may have lost someone in this deadly storm.
This effort is part of a more than 2,200-member effort by the state National Guard to assist people in the New York City area.
It's unclear when the 107th will be coming back.