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

Master Sgt. Steven Sabato, 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, listens attentively to the request of one of the displaced residents at the shelter in Jersey City, Nov. 7. The New Jersey National Guard is providing sheltering for displaced Jersey City residents at the Jersey City armory in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez/Released)

Master Sgt. Steven Sabato, 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, listens attentively to the request of one of the displaced residents at the shelter in Jersey City, Nov. 7. The New Jersey National Guard is providing sheltering for displaced Jersey City residents at the Jersey City armory in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez/Released)

Master Sgt. Steven Sabato, 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, takes a small break from his duties at the shelter location in Jersey City, Nov. 7 to eat some breakfast. The New Jersey National Guard is providing sheltering for displaced Jersey City residents at the Jersey City armory in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez/Released)

Master Sgt. Steven Sabato, 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, takes a small break from his duties at the shelter location in Jersey City, Nov. 7 to eat some breakfast. The New Jersey National Guard is providing sheltering for displaced Jersey City residents at the Jersey City armory in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez/Released)

Senior Airman Mohammed Siddiqui, 108th Wing, sweeps the sleeping area for displaced residents at Jersey City, Nov. 7. The New Jersey National Guard is providing sheltering for displaced Jersey City residents at the Jersey City armory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez/Released)

Senior Airman Mohammed Siddiqui, 108th Wing, sweeps the sleeping area for displaced residents at Jersey City, Nov. 7. The New Jersey National Guard is providing sheltering for displaced Jersey City residents at the Jersey City armory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez/Released)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- "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."