Jacksonville-based Army Reserves respond to Sandy

Water purification unit head north

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nearly 40,000 people remain homeless and millions are still without power a week after Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Now Army reservists based in Jacksonville are heading north to aid with relief efforts.

Service members from the 410th Quartermaster Detachment, 257th TC BN Battalion, 641st Regional Support Group, 143d Expeditionary Support Command are deploying to Fort Dix, New Jersey to assist in the response of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

"We have been getting briefs, its been sporadic. It's going to be a little confusing up there, but we are flexible and our soldiers are ready to meet any task that needs accomplished," said LTC Kevin Meisler, 257th Transportation Batallion Commander.

The unit will send approximately 25 service members, 6 military vehicles, 4 water pumps, and 10 miles of hose line to assist in the removal and redistribution of water. The unit's primary mission is to operate bulk water storage and distribution facilities for water transfer.

"We are an army reserve unit, we are part of the federal response, it means a lot coming from Jacksonville. Coming from an area that sees a lot of hurricanes throughout the year and the folks here are excited and ready to accomplish the mission. Most of the damage that we are going to be dealing with is the water damage caused in the subway systems and electrical boxes, stuff of that nature. We are going down there to pump that water out there and restore the power lost to the area," said LTC Meisler.

This will be the first time that U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers have been activated for a domestic natural disaster under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which streamlined the process for Federal Reserve forces to mobilize in support of relief efforts within local communities.

"We are looking forward to it and ready to complete the mission, we look forward to taking care of our own and ready to do our country some justice," said 14th Quarter Master Company Commander Michael Beckum.

Andre Thomas said goodbye to his daughter who is in the reserves and going to help. While he said he'll miss her, he is proud of what she is doing.

"It was a last minute thing for me, that was the big thing that threw me off, it was sudden. The people of NY need the help, she's going there doing what she was trained to do," Thomas said.

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