LIVORNO, Italy - Excess vests, blankets, sleeping bags, sand bags and a water pump were among the more than 2200 pieces of equipment packed on 37 pallets shipped Jan. 17, from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Humanitarian Assistance Program-Excess Property (HAP-EP) located in Camp Darby, Italy, to assist victims of recent devastating floods in Albania.

Torrential rainfalls struck Albania several times last November-December time frame, resulting in more than 5,000 households damaged. Approximately 600 families are still homeless after being forced to evacuate.

In early December, Albania requested international support.

HAP-EP, a DoD operation managed by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) located in Washington, D.C., began coordinating the request in late December for relief supplies to be shipped from HAP-EP warehouses located in Camp Darby, Italy, and Albany, Georgia.

According to Livorno's DSCA HAP-EP Program Manager Janine Wick, the program is to redistribute excess non-combat military property and donate it to foreign countries in support of Department of the State-sponsored humanitarian projects and contingency disaster relief missions.

"One of the biggest challenges is the short response time. For humanitarian projects, it normally takes three to six months to plan. With this disaster response, we were dealing with a holiday period when the workforce was reduced," said Wick.

Another challenge to responding rapidly is setting up a transportation contract and dealing with customs.

"We couldn't have completed our mission without the support of the 14th Transportation Movement Control Team Livorno writing up contracts and making sure all the transportation and customs documents were in compliance," added Wick.

Officials hope the requested items will assist the Albanian institutions control flooding in vulnerable areas, some of which are still underwater as well as assist the Albanian Government to increase its disaster relief capacity.

In 2017, HAP-EP Livorno supported humanitarian projects in Georgia, Lithuania, Croatia, Albania, Senegal, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Estonia, Macedonia and Kosovo.

"Ultimately the speed of sending out supplies depends on available items, transportation support and contracts, customs issues, etc. My goal is to send out at least one project every month," said Wick.

The team working at HAP-EP Livorno consider themselves very fortunate to be able to perform such a rewarding job.

"The best part about this project is utilizing excess property through the Defense Logistics Agency and use it for our mission," said HAP-EP warehouse supervisor Mike Fiyalko. "At the end of day you know you have worked to help people in need and this rewarding feeling pays off."

More information on DSCA's Humanitarian Assistance Program can be found online at: http://www.dsca.mil/programs/humanitarian-assistance-disaster-relief-mine-action