JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHUSRT, N.J. -- The U.S. Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command received the Army Superior Unit Award during a ceremony April 21 at the command's headquarters here.
The command was recognized for providing aid and assistance from October 2012 to April 2013 to communities in New York City that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained provisions for the Army Reserve to provide Defense Support of Civil Authorities, was passed shortly before the 1,000-mile-wide storm tore its way across the eastern seaboard of the United States.
"Under DSCA, the Army Reserve provides vital capabilities in support of state and local authorities in times of national emergency or disaster," said Maj. Gen. Troy D. Kok, commanding general of the 99th RSC.
The Army Reserve's relief efforts in the wake of Sandy marked the first time this new authority was tested.
"The remarkable response that happened was truly precedent-setting," said retired Maj. Gen. William D. Razz Waff, who served as commanding general of the 99th RSC from 2010-2013. "On Oct. 29, 2012, we shifted from seeing DSCA on the strategic level to the operational level when Sandy hit."
Under Waff's leadership, the 99th RSC provided the Army Reserve's 401st, 410th and 431st Quartermaster Teams with mission-essential items such as waste-water pumps, military vehicles, tents, heaters, generators, cold- and wet-weather gear, and rations. These three quartermaster teams were part of Task Force Pump, a conglomeration of active-duty, Army Reserve and National Guard units from several branches of service that provided relief to victims of Sandy in New York City.
The 99th RSC also reopened the recently closed Fort Tilden Army Reserve Center in New York City to aid the residents of nearby towns affected by Sandy, especially the seaside community of Breezy Point where more than 300 homes were destroyed by fire and flood waters.
Many federal, state and local agencies occupied the Tilden facility in an effort to provide aid to local communities, to include the Office of Emergency Management, Fire Department of New York, New York Police Department, United States Navy, Small Business Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Postal Service, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Breezy Point Cooperative.
"The Fort Tilden Center became the community life center for Breezy Point," Waff said.
Several months after the mission at Fort Tilden had ended, Waff was having lunch in New York City following a visit to the Merchant Marine Academy. When he tried to pay for his bill, he found that another patron had paid it for him.
"As I thanked her and reached out, she saw the 99th patch and she jumped up and said, 'You're from the 99th -- you saved us at Breezy Point,' and she hugged me and would not let go," Waff said. "She knew what the 99th had done."
The Army Reserve's successful response to Superstorm Sandy proved that the DSCA provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act were well-founded and would allow the Army Reserve to meet the needs of local communities during a disaster, utilizing the 1,200 Army Reserve facilities and approximately 200,000 Army Reserve Soldiers located in neighborhoods and on military installations across the nation.