By Staff Sgt. Aidana BaezOctober 17, 2018
PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Soldiers of Company A, 53rd Brigade Support Battalion have been assisting law enforcement at Rutherford High School, a public high school in Panama City, Florida where approximately 300 displaced residents have taken shelter following Hurricane Michael.
Hurricane Michael made downfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 and is recorded as, in terms of pressure, the third most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States.
"It has been a little chaotic," said Sgt. Fraicor Terrero, a heavy vehicle driver assigned to Company A, 53rd Brigade Support Battalion. "There are a lot of people in need."
Terrero and his team are a part of the over 3,000 Soldier response to the relief effort. The specific mission for the team of eight is to augment law enforcement and provide security for the civilians located in the shelter.
"Basically, we are doing a show of presence," said Terrero. "Helping out with whatever they need."
When not performing his duties with the National Guard, Terrero is a law enforcement officer in Manatee County, Fla. His training in law enforcement has helped him during this mission.
"You learn how to handle situations and handle people," said Terrero.
Terrero and his team arrived to the shelter early Saturday morning and have been providing security since then.
"We got here about Saturday in the middle of the night," said Spc. Thomas J. Kotvas, an ammunition specialist assigned to Company A, 53rd Brigade Support Battalion. "We got a little tour and now we are just trying to assist law enforcement trying to keep the peace by showing presence."
Kotvas' has no previous experience with relief missions but has already learned a lot since arriving in the Panhandle.
"This is my first time getting activated and doing anything like this, so this is all new to me," said Kotvas. "It is a really humbling experience, seeing what it is like after a disaster and what these people have to go through. So a couple days of being uncomfortable for me isn't really a big deal especially, if there are people who lost their homes."