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NY sends Air National Guard personnel, equipment to aid Texas

Personnel, aircraft and watercraft from the Suffolk County-based

Personnel, aircraft and watercraft from the Suffolk County-based 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard are deployed on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, from Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana. Credit: John Roca

The state has deployed New York Air National Guard members, airplanes and boats from Long Island to aid hurricane victims in Texas and Louisiana.

“As Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate the Gulf Coast, I am deploying emergency personnel and equipment to help mitigate damage and aid in the recovery effort,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement Saturday.

Cuomo said he spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards about the storm assistance on Friday.

More than 100 National Guard personnel from the Suffolk County-based 106th Rescue Wing, including three helicopters, a plane, rescue teams, maintenance and support staff, several boats and watercraft, were deployed, officials said.

They were being sent from Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach to Fort Hood in Texas.

Meanwhile, New York-area disaster relief organizations were mobilizing their own volunteers and mustering supplies Saturday.

About a dozen American Red Cross volunteers from Long Island and New York City had already left for Texas, and two dozen more were expected to follow by Monday, spokesman Craig Cooper said.

Cooper said the volunteers include nurses and mental health specialists who will provide victim counseling, and those tasked with preparing and delivering meals.

Red Cross volunteer Elizabeth Barker, 37, of Smithtown, flew to Texas Saturday afternoon to assist in the recovery.

“It just looks like a huge storm, and there’s a lot of help that’s needed there right now,” said Barker, a former Red Cross disaster program manager, minutes before boarding her flight.

“Really, I just know from living through superstorm Sandy what it takes to run an operation this big. There’s stress and effort,” she said. “My heart goes out to everyone who is affected in Houston. I just think this will be a long recovery period for them.”

Americares, a nonprofit relief organization based in Stamford, Connecticut, had a three-member ground team flown to San Antonio, Texas, in anticipation of the storm.

By Saturday afternoon, the organization had provided four truckloads of bottled water to the Salvation Army and tetanus vaccines to medical personnel, said Garrett Ingoglia, vice president of emergency response.

Once flooding in Houston subsides, the group plans either to ship hygiene and first-aid kits to shelters or purchase supplies there, he said.

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