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VFW Magazine January 2018 : Page 27

UNITY’ of VFW Post 8800 in Canyon Lake, Texas, and commander of U.S. Army North, is the Department of Defense’s liaison in Puerto Rico. He arrived on the island Sept. 28 and said the damage “was abso-lutely catastrophic.” “It was far worse than anything I’d ever seen,” Buchanan said. Maria , according to Buchanan, is the “10th most-powerful storm ever record-ed,” including those that did not hit land. Maria earned its place in the top 10 along-side hurricanes Katrina and Rita , The Weather Channel reported. The island also sustained “tremendous wind damage,” according to Buchanan. “For much of the island, there’s not even a leaf on a tree,” Buchanan said. Buchanan said that after Maria hit the island, DoD realized its requirements in support of FEMA and the local governor would be “far larger than we had in Irma .” He oversees the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps teams totaling about 17,000 federal responders, the majority from the DoD. Given the extent of the damage, Buchanan said, parts of Puerto Rico “have rebounded fairly quickly.” Major roads, he added, have been cleared, and minor roads “up in the mountains” were in the AS COMMUNITIES IN TEXAS, FLORIDA AND PUERTO RICO SUSTAINED DAMAGE DURING LAST YEAR’S HURRICANE SEASON, VFW POSTS RALLIED TO OFFER SUPPORT. had “three major shelters running” that the Red Cross could not reach with its equipment. “We were preparing three meals a day and shipping it out to about 2,000 people a day,” Stewart said. Mark Windsor, VFW Post 2493 com-mander in Mt. Wolf, Pa., led a donation effort with Post 556, of York, Pa., to make deliveries to Conroe. Windsor said he wanted to show that Post members were willing to send dona-tions, as well as be on hand to deliver them. “It’s a relief to know that you’ve got other VFWs that care enough to drive 25 hours straight through just to offer any assistance they can,” Windsor said. Donations came from throughout their communities, including local businesses. “Filling the truck was the easy part for me because of the community,” said Windsor, who served in Korea in 1989-90 with A Co., 102nd Military Intelligence Bn., as an electronic intelligence inter-ceptor. Windsor also took $6,850 in checks and cash to Conroe. In making the trip, Windsor joined forces with past Post 2493 Commander Matthew Baskette, Post 2493 Auxiliary member Cheryl Witmer, Post PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSE ROSA process of being cleared in October. The number of military aid flights had dimin-ished, too, according to Buchanan. The number of island inhabitants in October with power, according to Buchanan, was “hovering around 21 per-cent.” It was around 2 percent when Buchanan arrived in late September. “It’s still way below what anybody would be satisfied with,” Buchanan said. About 60 percent of the island had access to water, as of October, through its normal system rather than “delivery of clean water,” according to Buchanan. The people of Puerto Rico’s “sense of community,” according to Buchanan, has shone through in the hurricane’s after-math and will “help them get back on their feet.” “The one thing that has amazed me is the sense of community and the power of families and the fact that people seem to be bending over to help each other,” Buchanan said. ‘FILLING THE TRUCK WAS THE EASY PART’ Floyd Stewart, Post 4709 commander in Conroe, Texas, said that when Harvey hit, a call went out from Friends of Conroe, a nonprofit group. The county, according to Stewart, PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSE ROSA PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSE ROSA Jose Rosa, commander of VFW Post 3282 in Port Orange, Fla., loads donations for hurricane relief efforts into a van. Rosa’s Post lost power for about six hours as a result of Hurricane Irma , but later opened its doors to the public. “We have helped several people who were isolated by the storm and helped them clear up their yards and their fences,” Rosa said. Members of VFW Post 3282 in Port Orange, Fla., collect donations for hurricane relief efforts. Post Commander Jose Rosa said the community looks at VFW for support. “The day after the storm, there [were] a lot of people in our Post because they had no power and no TV, and we did,” Rosa said. VFW Post 3282 in Port Orange, Fla., took donations for hurricane relief efforts. Post Commander Jose Rosa said the Post collected more than $1,000 for Hurricane Maria victims, as well as filling three trucks with items to be distributed in Puerto Rico. JANUARY 2018 • WWW.VFW.ORG • 27

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