KY Air National Guard, Army Corps of Engineers helping after Hurricane Maria

KY air Guardsmen offer help after Hurricane Maria

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The effects of Hurricane Maria are being felt across the Caribbean, and people from Louisville are there lending a helping hand.

For the third time in a month, Kentucky Air National Guardsmen will take part in hurricane rescue operations. Seven Special Tactics Airmen are headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

WHAS11’s Robert Bradfield caught up with a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from Louisville’s district.

"You have to think about the people who live here. You have to think about what's right to do,” Eric Cheng with the Army Corps of Engineers said.

Nine days after returning from the Caribbean and rescuing more than 1,300 people from Hurricane Irma, the Kentucky Air National Guardsmen are gearing up for another trip in response to Hurricane Maria.

"It takes a lot. It takes a lot of commitment. Not only for these guys but the families,” Chief Master Sgt. Aaron May with the Kentucky Air National Guard told WHAS11.

The seven-man team will be responsible for clearing airfields of debris and opening runways so humanitarian aid can be delivered to those who need it most.

They will split their time in St. Croix and St. Thomas.

"Our job is to get there, get it established. Get the flow of aircraft coming in. Once it's established, do we have the capability to hand it off. to someone else. That's the ultimate goal. Hand it off to someone else and move on to the next task,” May said.

The Army Corps of Engineers is also working in the Caribbean. Eight employees in the Louisville district are part of the debris collection and disposal response team.

"From a personal standpoint, I've been describing to friends and family that there's almost no good way to take a photograph and fully encompass the damage out here,” Cheng said.

Cheng is currently in St. Croix which he says suffered wide-spread vegetation loss.

"I understand it to be a beautiful and lush, green landscape. What I'm looking at is just a lot of downed trees and a lot of bare branches. I've described it as winter under the summer sun,” Cheng said.

Cheng has been in the Caribbean for about two weeks and may stay there for 60 days depending on the work that still needs to be done.
 

The Kentucky Air National Guardsmen plan to complete their work in about three days, but a return date has not been set.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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