TOWN OF NIAGARA —
The unit was activated this past weekend in preparation for the storm but was kept on standby until after the storm came ashore, which it did Monday afternoon off the south New Jersey shore.
The weather system, described as a 200-year storm by many meteorologists, had less of an effect in Western New York Monday evening than originally forecasted, which McCready said freed his unit to assist the New York City area. If things had been different, he said, Buffalo could have been an area in need as well.
“Everything was unknown about the storm,” he said. “We may have been the ones in need of the help. But we’re glad to help.”
About 10 percent of the unit is involved in the mission, McCready said, with many part-timers among the volunteers.
For some of those volunteers, like Lt. Col. Ken Kieliszek, it’s just another chance to help people in desperate need. He helped after 9/11 and again after Irene last year. This marks the third trip to The Big Apple to assist after disasters.
“It gives me a great sense of pride to help out other New York state residents,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to know when others need help, we’re able to provide it.”
While many of those on the relief mission have assisted before, others like Airman First Class Stephanie Rosten haven’t. This marks the relative newcomer’s first mission with the wing, one she said she’s looking forward to because she wants to help like everyone else.
“I’ve seen a lot of the coverage on the news,” she said. “It’s just tragic. My heart goes out to all those families. We all feel very bad. So we’re expecting the worst but hoping to help.”