Sunday, September 24

Kentucky National Guard flies "airbase in a box" to Puerto Rico. Now we're cookin!

There's no timeline on when they'll be coming home. “Just until the mission is done."

By Fallon Glick
Posted: Sep 23, 2017 8:53 PM EDT - Updated 9:38 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – 32 airmen from the Kentucky National Guard left Saturday morning for Puerto Rico with two large C-17 planes. They'll be opening up the airfield so supplies can be flown in.

“We essentially bring a base in a box,” Lt. Col. Steven Campbell said.

Following weeks of hurricane relief efforts from Hurricane Harvey and then being on alert for Hurricane Irma, the Kentucky National Guard is now fully focused on relief efforts in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria.

“We'll go in there, we'll set up. We don't need electricity, we don't need running water. We don't need anything. We'll go in and if there's a runway and a ramp, we'll set up an airbase and start bringing in recovery supplies,” Campbell said.

While the airmen are preparing the base, volunteers back home in Louisville will be collecting supplies to be shipped there.

“Shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby diapers, adult diapers for the elderly and water is a very important thing,” Mitch Dennison said.

Dennison is one of many in this collection effort.

Those items can be dropped off with volunteers loading up a large truck outside the Americana Center on Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Other items being collected include non-perishable food items and rechargeable radios. Dennison says the radios are important for communication.

“Because 911 is down in Puerto Rico. There's no electricity, there's no 911, there's no electricity, there's no communication to emergency services,” he said.

Many are also using Facebook at times to share pictures of loved ones -- hoping for good news.

“You don't know whether to think the worst or to wonder if the person is not there anymore,” Dennison said.

Dennison himself was just reunited with friends and family from social media after not hearing from them for several days.

“It goes straight to voicemail or it says there is no connection,” he said. “It's hard for the Puerto Ricans not to hear anything from their families.”

A truck full of the Louisville donations will be sent to New York and then to Puerto Rico.

As for how long the National Guard will be there -- there's no timeline on when they'll be coming home.

“Just until the mission is done,” Campbell said.

Organizers are asking for volunteers to help pack the truck before it leaves Wednesday morning, asking volunteers to spare 15 or 20 minutes when dropping off their donated items.

The truck will be parked outside the American Center at 4801 Southside Drive in Louisville.


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