FAR ROCKAWAY, N.Y. -- Approximately 86 Marines from 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group arrived in New York recently with high-powered pumps, engineering equipment and various other military-grade resources to assist locals who lost their homes due to Hurricane Sandy.
The vicious storm ripped through much of the coast, including parts of Queens and much of Far Rockaway. Many of the areas’ low-income housing was either blown away, burned or flooded beyond repair, leaving people who live there without electricity, food or even a roof over their heads in some cases.
The Marines were sent to support United States Northern Command with Defense Support of Civil Authorities missions related to the hurricane, in order to salvage what homes could be.
After arriving late Nov. 3, the team hit the ground running early the next day, sending out their first group of combat engineers and water support technicians to pump water out of a block of apartment complexes in Far Rockaway.
Many of the buildings’ basements were flooded and required water removal immediately. Marines answered the call by setting up powerful, gas-powered pumps to extract the water from the buildings and into the drainage systems in the streets.
Residents of the apartments received the Marines’ efforts with optimism. Some watched as the engineers worked, some took pictures, and other residents offered coffee and food to the Marines.
The Marines assigned to the humanitarian operation found out about the assignment just days before they left, but they were more than happy to volunteer and support the cause.
“Basically, our command told us they needed a certain number of Marines in a couple (Military Occupational Specialties) to go to New York, and I wanted to be a part of the efforts in helping the people here,” said Sgt. Justin Armstrong, a combat engineer with 8th ESB, 2nd MLG. “Even though we had less than two days to prepare, all of us wanted to come and do what we could to aid the residents who lost so much in the storm.”
The feeling resonated throughout the group of Marines.
“I’m just happy I got the opportunity to do something that will benefit these people in need,” said Sgt. Ryan Ewing, a water support technician with 8th ESB, 2nd MLG.
The Marines pumped an enormous amount of floodwater from the apartments after their first day of work, but the job is only beginning. The Marines are looking forward to the challenge and excited to see what other jobs await them.