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15 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers Mobilizing to Puerto Rico to Assist in Hurricane Recovery Efforts
FRAMINGHAM, MA — The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is coordinating the mobilization of a 15-member Massachusetts National Guard public affairs team to Puerto Rico to assist with hurricane recovery efforts. The request for assistance from Puerto Rico came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which is the national emergency management mutual aid system that facilitates state-to-state disaster assistance.
“We are proud of the Massachusetts National Guard soldiers mobilizing to assist in Puerto Rico’s recovery from the impacts of recent devastating hurricanes,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts continues to offer Puerto Rico personnel and equipment support, welcome disaster survivors seeking temporary or permanent residence in the Commonwealth and remain in contact with Puerto Rican officials and federal authorities.”
The 15 person Massachusetts National Guard public affairs team is part of the Army Guard’s 65th Press Camp Headquarters. The soldiers will provide public affairs support for current National Guard members operating in Puerto Rico, including processing media requests, preparing media advisories and stories, producing videos, taking and collecting photographs, and providing media escorts in the field. The team will depart Massachusetts on Wednesday, October 25th, and is expected to be mobilized for up to 60 days.
“This specialized unit will join National Guard members from multiple states who are on the ground in Puerto Rico supporting recovery efforts and the citizens of Puerto Rico,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The Commonwealth continues to take steps to assist those impacted by the recent disasters, and we urge people who are looking to help to consider making cash donations to a disaster relief organizations listed on the state’s website.”
“Massachusetts National Guard soldiers and other public safety personnel have previously been sent across the country to assist after disasters and significant weather events,” said Secretary of Public Safety Dan Bennett. “We thank these soldiers and all the personnel who have stepped forward and offered to assist in this time of need.”
«Our service members are prepared to assist and maximize transparency of Department of Defense and Commonwealth of Massachusetts National Guard activities in response to the tragic hurricanes that have struck Puerto Rico,» said Major General Gary Keefe, Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. «We are honored to offer our personnel and resources in this critical time of need and anticipate future mission taskings as we help the citizens of Puerto Rico recover from the devastation caused by these hurricanes.»
“EMAC is an important component of our emergency management system, both here in Massachusetts and across the country,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Massachusetts has previously been both the recipient and provider of EMAC assistance and we are proud to continue this tradition by sending additional personnel to Puerto Rico to support their recovery process.”
MEMA continues to monitor the EMAC system and look for opportunities to offer personnel, equipment and resources to Puerto Rico and other areas impacted by recent disasters.
Other Recent Disaster Response Activities:
On October 18th, MEMA announced the deployment of 5 state and local employees to join FEMA’s disaster response workforce. The employees, who will work under FEMA’s supervision, will help deliver federal disaster support to survivors and communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
On October 16th, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the deployment of a 10-person emergency management team to Puerto Rico for hurricane response and recovery. While deployed in Puerto Rico, the team will be working with the Central Island Coordination Task Force, which coordinates the delivery of goods and services across the island. The team includes three MEMA employees and seven members of the Northwest Massachusetts Incident Management Team (NWMIMT).
On October 4th, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the deployment of 69 local and state law enforcement officers to Puerto Rico for hurricane response and recovery. The first 24 officers arrived in Puerto Rico on October 7th. A second cadre of 24 officers arrived in Puerto Rico on October 18th, and the final group of 21 officers will deploy to Puerto Rico on November 1st. While in Puerto Rico, the law enforcement officers will assist with traffic and security duties.
Governor Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Representative Jeffrey Sánchez and members of the Boston Foundation also announced the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund to support and respond to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The fund has been formed in partnership with the Latino Legacy fund and in cooperation with the Alliance for Puerto Rico. Funds raised will be distributed for reconstruction and relief on the island of Puerto Rico and to support self-evacuees arriving in Massachusetts from Puerto Rico for temporary or permanent residence.
The Baker-Polito Administration has formed a state task force that is working to ensure that the state is prepared to support the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for individuals who choose to self-evacuate the island and seek temporary or permanent residence in Massachusetts.
On September 10th, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the deployment of a three-person Emergency Operations Center (EOC) team, and a nine-person nursing team to Florida to assist with response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Irma.
Volunteers & Donations:
Donations – Donating cash to recognized disaster relief organizations is the best way to help people in need after a disaster. Cash donations are efficient, flexible to use, and require no transportation. Consider donating to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, or other disaster relief organization that is a member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD): https://www.nvoad.org/current-disasters/werespond/
Volunteers – Those looking to volunteer are encouraged to get involved with an established disaster relief organization. This ensures that volunteer efforts are coordinated and that the needs of disaster communities and survivors are met. People are asked not to self-deploy to a disaster area. Information on volunteering is available through the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD): https://www.nvoad.org/current-disasters/werespond/
MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA’s staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector – individuals, families, non-profits and businesses – MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover. For additional information about MEMA and Emergency Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema.