New York Aviators Respond to Hurricane Irene

LATHAM. N.Y., Sept. 2, 2011 — New York Army Nation­al Guard avi­a­tion units have logged 150 hours of flight time and trans­port­ed 60,000 pounds of food and water to iso­lat­ed moun­tain towns and cen­tral dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­ters as New York state offi­cials con­tin­ue to respond to the after­math of Hur­ri­cane Irene.

The first flight of New York Army Guard avi­a­tors occurred Aug. 28, just after the brunt of the storm passed over the state. Avi­a­tors fly­ing from the Army Avi­a­tion Sup­port Facil­i­ty at Albany Inter­na­tion­al Air­port flew south into Greene Coun­ty to see if they could assist in res­cu­ing peo­ple who were strand­ed by ris­ing flood waters in the town of Prattsville. The strand­ed civil­ians were res­cued before the heli­copters were need­ed that night. At first light the next day, the cit­i­zen-sol­dier avi­a­tors began fly­ing sur­veil­lance mis­sions so state offi­cials could begin to assess the impact of the storm. On both Long Island, where Hur­ri­cane Irene first hit, and Catskill Moun­tain towns where small creeks became rag­ing rivers, the Guard’s UH-60s pro­vid­ed eyes in the sky.

In a joint oper­a­tion, three New York Air Nation­al Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk search and res­cue heli­copters, which had been evac­u­at­ed from their base on Long Island to escape the storm, were dis­patched to Schoharie Coun­ty to con­duct search and res­cue mis­sions if nec­es­sary.

The Task Force Avi­a­tion team also pro­vid­ed trans­porta­tion to New York Gov. Andrew Cuo­mo, Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­ri­ty Janet Napoli­tano, and Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency Admin­is­tra­tor Craig Fugate so they could con­duct a tour of flood-rav­aged regions.

The avi­a­tors began haul­ing food and water Aug. 30 and 31.

CH-47D Chi­nook heli­copters assigned to B Com­pa­ny of the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 126th Avi­a­tion, picked up FEMA sup­plies flow­ing into Stew­art Air Nation­al Guard Base. The sup­plies were loaded into the Chi­nooks and flown to Bel­leayre Ski Cen­ter, a state-owned facil­i­ty in High­mont in Ulster Coun­ty.

At Bel­leayre, UH-60s from the Albany flight facil­i­ty picked up water and food and air­lift­ed them into Mar­garetville, Prattsville, Mid­dle­burgh and oth­er Greene and Schoharie Coun­ty moun­tain towns which were not eas­i­ly acces­si­ble by road.

Oth­er flights car­ried food and water donat­ed by the Region­al Food Bank of north­east­ern New York. Sol­diers packed the UH-60s full of food and bot­tled drinks and sent them on their way.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)