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FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — As New Jersey residents try to bounce back from Sandy, some very special people literally have been fueling the effort.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, about 2,000 men and women with the National Guard left their civilian jobs to help the Garden State recover from the storm.
A sign on a wall defined the mission – “Taking Care of Our Own.”
“We helped evacuate almost a hundred residents, so it was great,” said National Guard member Jessica Reichner. “I honestly feel like I did more here than when I deployed to Iraq.”
Reichner, of South Jersey, spent nine months in Iraq. Now, her theater of operations is Long Beach Island.
CBS 2 flew along as a National Guard helicopter went up to assess operations.
Almost 2,000 National Guard members have been assisting in rescues during the storm. They have since moved on to recovery and replenishing the beaches.
It has been hard work under challenging circumstances.
“They’ve stayed here while their homes have damaged, while their homes are destroyed, while their parents, who a lot of them are young, are living with, are without electricity still to this day,” said John Grant of the New Jersey Army National Guard. “But they opt to come out here to help the community.”
The guard has been bunking in an Ocean County, N.J., Department of Public Works building. They have been playing cards and board games in their down time, and eating very well.
“The community has been bringing in homemade food, day after day, all day, every day,” said D.W. Janszky of Haddonfield, N.J.
In Freehold, the 10th Mountain Division was joining the Guard in a refueling operation, providing gasoline to disaster responders such as the Red Cross.
“We’re on the road maybe 400 miles a day sometimes, and we’re going site to site making sure that they’re safe, so the faster we can get there helps us,” said Jim Gaebe of the American Red Cross.
The National Guard was also delivering fuel directly to recovery teams.
“So that they’re not having to travel all over the state of New Jersey to find fuel, we bring it right to them so that they can continue their efforts on ground,” said 10th Mountain Division Capt. Paul Amis.
As long as the Jersey Shore is suffering, the Guard will be serving.
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