The New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing is now in the Caribbean, where it will be helping people pummeled by Hurricane Irma.
Hercules rescue aircraft, helicopters, Zodiac boats and other equipment were shipped out of Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said 124 personnel from the 106th were deployed on Thursday.
After landing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the unit immediately began gearing up for rescue operations in the hard-hit Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. John, according to Capt. Michael O’Hagan.
Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, has killed at least 22 people as it heads toward Florida.
On St. Thomas, the hospital was destroyed, power lines and towers were toppled, a water and sewage treatment plant was heavily damaged, and the harbor was in ruins, along with hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses.
This is the second time in two weeks the 106th has been deployed to aid storm victims. From Aug. 27 to Sept 1, the unit rescued 546 people in the Houston area after Hurricane Harvey struck.
Cuomo vowed in a statement to help storm-ravaged Caribbean islands “any way” possible, and said New York was also sending a specialized first responder team to Florida.
That team, he said, is skilled in difficult rescues, including “structural collapse” situations.