STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived via CH-53E helicopters to Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 4.
Working in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New York City Parks Department and other civilian authorities, a group of 20 Marines have come ashore to Staten Island to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Sandy’s damaging winds and flooding.
“It feels good to help,” said Lance Cpl. Antonio M. Medina, optics technician, CLB-26 attached to 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “We’re trying to coordinate efforts with the local and some state agencies so that we can try to help with the situation, take furniture that’s rotten, get medicine, whatever it takes to relieve their problems.”
The Marines are moving house to house through Staten Island, surveying damaged structures, assisting those in need of medical support and providing manpower to remove damaged household goods from residents’ homes.
The 26th MEU Marines are scheduled to provide assistance as the surrounding New York communities return to normal operations and power is restored. The eastern shore of Staten Island has seen some of the worst destruction from Hurricane Sandy, homes were flooded, power lines broken and trees remain fallen on top of homes and vehicles.
“I can tell you that for as long as the mission needs us to be here or until we’re told to move to somewhere else to help, we’ll be here,” Medina said. “The (locals) appreciate the help a lot. They shake our hands and say thank you. They even have offered us food in several locations but we’re not here to take their things. We’re here to help them out.”
Many of the residents expressed their gratitude to the Marines for lending a hand. Salvatore Greco, who served in the Marine Corps during the early 90’s, was excited when he saw a group of Marines helping out with the recovery.
“It’s a blessing,” said Greco. “The first thing I asked was, ‘Where’s my Marines at?’”
Greco’s wife, Sebahet, exclaimed that she wants to see more Marines helping out.
“I was hoping that the Marines were here. I was happy to see them here.”
Water levels rose to extreme levels on Staten Island, flooding homes, business and cars. Flood-damaged clothing, electronics and furniture line the streets of Midland Beach and other communities on Staten Island’s coast.
The Marines, operating from the USS Wasp, USS San Antonio and USS Carter Hall off the coast of New York City are part of a Navy and Marine Corps team that provides crisis response to anywhere in the world. The Navy Marine team has the ability to land forces ashore by air and sea and is uniquely suited to assist local authorities in moving personnel and equipment.