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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

Air Guard Assists With Receiving Area for Hurricane Relief Responders

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Chelsea Smith, 165th Airlift Wing

SAVANNAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ga., Sept. 25, 2017 – Waves of first responders and their families shuffled through a 165th Airlift Wing reception center here over the weekend as part of Hurricane Maria relief processing and operations.

The wing's personnel support for contingency operations, or PERSCO, team staffed the 24-hour USO receiving area to provide relief for the relievers.

The area offered food, toiletries and assigned lodging for first responders arriving to and departing from the disaster area.

About 100 to 125 military, state and federal personnel circulated daily through receiving lines and ad-hoc lounge areas. They found spaces to decompress, recharge and prepare for future assignments. As of yesterday, half of the wing's 592 beds were filled.

"This is the first time a mass-scale reception area has been arranged at the wing," said Eva White, a wing lodging assistant. "We've been lucky to tap additional help from members of the 145th Airlift Wing, who were in Savannah initially to perform annual tour days but agreed to stand up and staff operations here."

PERSCO is composed of personnel and services staff from the 165th and 145th Airlift Wings, based in Georgia and South Carolina, respectively. They rotated on eight-hour shifts to handle incoming and outgoing people during the weeks-long effort. The center is scheduled to remain open until the wing discontinues hurricane relief operations, said Air Force Lt. Col. Sean Barnett, 145th Force Support Squadron commander.

"We've been drinking from a hose for the past couple of days," Barnett said. "We've received great support from members of the 165th Airlift Wing to help make this center flow as smoothly as possible."

More than 700 Air National Guard airmen are deployed to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support relief efforts. The Air Guard is working alongside state and federal partners to prepare equipment, supplies and airmen in support of various relief missions.

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