Area guard base aids storm victims

Posted: November 5, 2012

The Winchester Star

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A National Guard base about 30 minutes from Winchester is helping West Virginia and New York residents to recover from Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.

Members of the Army and Air Force units of the West Virginia National Guard are using the guard’s 167th Airlift Wing — just south of Martinsburg — as a staging area to distribute food and emergency supplies to the western part of the state — which was severely affected by snow resulting from the storm.

Col. Roger Nye of the Air National Guard said the base is part of a coordinated effort with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help transport FEMA supplies by ground.

“The only thing we’re doing is accepting trucks and then when there are orders that come in from the state, from Charleston, for food and water we’ll break open a truck and offload those supplies and [send them out],” Nye said in a phone interview Friday.

The FEMA supplies are being brought to the base on tractor-trailers from various warehouses, he added.

About 3.5 million liters of water, 600,000 Meals Ready to Eat kits and infant and toddler kits are scheduled for delivery during the next few days, according to guard Maj. Melissa Shade.

Nye said the supplies are needed because some parts of West Virginia received as much as 50 inches of snow — curtailing basic utilities and services in those areas.

Meanwhile, C-5 Galaxy transport planes from the base are helping to restore power to parts of New York and the East Coast. The planes can transport the equivalent of six Greyhound buses, Nye said.

The base was scheduled to send two C-5 transports to Phoenix Friday. Those planes were scheduled pick up equipment to help power companies’ efforts to repair damage and restore service, fly to Stewart Air National Guard Base in southeastern New York to unload the equipment and then fly back to Martinsburg.

The process will be repeated multiple times over the coming days. Nye said the planes will eventually transport at least four full C-5 loads from Arizona to New York state.

“That’s a lot of cargo to help relief [efforts],” he said. “We’re very proud of what we’re doing here. We pride ourselves on taking care of America’s needs.”

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com