Marines, celebrities come together to battle Hurricane Sandy destruction
By Staff Sgt. Nate Hauser
| | November 04, 2012
TOMS RIVER, N.J. --
Piles of debris, burnt down houses and overturned cars littered the once picturesque streets of the North Jersey Shore. The 80 mph winds and torrential rains of Hurricane Sandy left a trail of destruction in its wake, leaving many families without adequate shelter, power or basic necessities. Amidst this scene of incredible destruction, a group of volunteers gathered to help rebuild their community.
4th Marine Logistics Group
6th Motor Transport
6th Motor Transportation Battalion-4th Marine Logistics Group
Dnacing with the Stars
Marine Forces Reserve
As the citizens of Toms River and the surrounding townships organized donated relief supplies, the unmistakable sound of a 7-ton truck could be heard in the background.
The Marines have landed
An all-volunteer team, comprised of seven Marines from the 6th Motor Transportation Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, had arrived to help distribute the much-needed donations. Equipped with two 7-ton trucks and a desire to help their community in a time of need, these “Devil Dogs” were a welcome addition to the effort in rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.
The need for such heavy-duty logistical support originated from a source almost 3,000 miles away. Kirstie Alley, known for her role in the TV show Cheers, realized the desperate need for help following the hurricane. So she contacted a friend in the Jersey Shore area and gave her $10,000 to buy supplies to be distributed to those in the hardest hit areas.
“I was watching the news and I saw interviews with people saying that they weren’t getting any help,” said Alley.
There was only one problem; the fleet of mini-vans and pickups owned by the volunteers was inadequate to move such a large amount of goods. Fortunately, the town of Toms River had an ace up their sleeve, a Marine Reserve unit less than 20 miles away.
“The Marines stopped what they were doing and came right over as soon as they heard we needed help,” said Traci Sirota, a Toms River resident and volunteer.
Convoy on the move
With the Marines on deck, the reinforced group of volunteers was now ready to move their goods in to the ravaged neighborhoods along the Atlantic coast. Boxes upon boxes of diapers, canned foods, clothes and blankets were loaded into the back of the towering military vehicles. A human chain of servicemembers and civilian good Samaritans provided the manpower to load the vital supplies.
"It's something that I can do to give back to the people around here that have nothing,” said Sgt. Eduardo Rivera, a motor transport operator with 6th Motor Transportation Bn. and a Dover N.J. native. “This is our state, and we're trying to get it back to the way that it was."
Having loaded their vehicles it was time for the Marines to move their precious cargo.
A convoy of cars interspersed by green-camouflaged trucks hit the sand covered streets en route to distribution points throughout Ocean County. Vehicles honked and people waved as the trucks drove through the devastated town.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to rebuild our community,” said Rivera. “Every person we can help makes the challenge of being a Marine all worth it.”
Once at their destination, the Marines set upon the daunting task of unloading and reorganizing the cache of relief supplies. As they worked, the rumble of a second truck could be felt approaching, delivering the last of the day’s donations.
“It’s awesome, I’m so impressed. We couldn’t have done it without the Marines,” said Sirota.
A job well done
As the day came to an end the Marines removed their helmets and body armor, leaving them standing in sweat-soaked cammies. Seemingly unaffected by the biting northeastern cold, the leathernecks of 6th Motor Transportation Bn. conversed with their civilian counterparts about the day’s events.
“You guys kicked butt,” and “oorah Marines,” were among the many sentiments carried by the wind amongst the recently filled storage units, stocked with soon-to-be-distributed goods.
“It was so great to know that the Marines were there. We didn’t even know that we would have this kind of support … I guess it’s just comforting to know that the Marines can provide this kind of help in a time of need,” said Alley.
The Marines said their goodbyes and moved back to their trucks, they had 5:30 a.m. wake-up call the next day, moving fuel to support the local infrastructure.
As one Marine unit turns in for the day another stands ready to assist should the need arise. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is currently postured off the New York/New Jersey coast, able to provide generators, fuel, clean water, and helicopter lift capabilities to aid in disaster relief efforts.