108th Wing Airmen help displaced Jersey City residents in wake of Superstorm Sandy

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez
  • 108th Wing Public Affairs
"What the heck was I thinking," said Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Sabato. "My wife and kids are at home."
Those were the words that kept repeating on Sabato's mind Sunday, Oct. 28, as he rode on the bus from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. towards the New Jersey Army National Guard's Jersey City armory.
Sabato, an aircraft mechanic, along with more than 100 other Airmen from the 108th Wing had volunteered for the governor's call up of the National Guard in support of civil authorities as Hurricane Sandy was approaching New Jersey.
"I was kicking myself in the butt," said Sabato, as he realized that if the hurricane damaged his home, he would not be around to help his family.
Luckily, Sabato's home was not impacted and his mind was at ease.
And being able to concentrate on his mission has been critical. Mainly, so that he and the other Guardsmen can effectively help the residents displaced by the hurricane. "Nobody was trained in any of this," said Sabato. "My job as an aircraft mechanic has nothing to do with this. We learned as we did things."
What the New Jersey National Guardsmen have been doing at the Jersey City armory has been providing sheltering to the hundreds of residents of Jersey City that were displaced when Hurricane Sandy hit the area.
"At the height of all of this, we had approximately 300 hundred residents seek shelter here," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Edmiston, also from the 108th Wing.
Edmiston said some were homeless before the hurricane and had nowhere to go when Hurricane Sandy made impact, so they came to the armory to seek shelter.
Since the hurricane hit Jersey City, these Guardsmen have provided sleeping cots, shower locations, fed and security for their guest at the armory. But they have also provided comfort and an ear to listen. They have showed compassion for anybody who needed someone to talk to during these difficult times.
"This facility is extremely incredible," said Sabato. "When we first got here, there was the Army and Air Force sections, but as time went by and we continued working together to help these people, we didn't see our different branches. We just worked as one team, with one goal: To help."