DONALDSONVILLE, La. – Soldiers and Airmen with the Oklahoma National Guard are helping their Louisiana neighbors affected by Hurricane Ida by supplying food, water and other needed supplies to those in need.
“We are running a point of distribution where we hand out goods to the local populace who are low on food, water, and basic supplies,” said Staff Sgt. Shane Newell, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Donaldsonville POD. “This POD is one of many [operated by the Oklahoma National Guard]. It is like eating an elephant; take one bite at a time. That is how you accomplish a big mission over time.”
Oklahoma’s Army and Air Guardsmen are spread throughout 13 POD sites in southern Louisiana. People needing aid come to the sites to get tarps, ice, rations and water. These items are needed as many areas affected by Hurricane Ida are still without electricity and running water.
Spc. Dylan Pacheco, a Soldier at the Donaldsonville POD with Bravo Company, 545th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade, said he is glad to help.
“It feels amazing to help. It makes us proud to wear this uniform, and it reminds us why we put it on and why we raised our right hand. It’s just a great feeling,” Pacheco said.
More than 7,800 families have received aid from Oklahoma Guardsmen across seven parishes.
“I feel like I’m doing what I joined the military to do,” said Spc. Caleb Galloway, another Soldier with the 545th BEB. “I have eight years [of] combined service. I did active-duty Marines. Then I joined the Guard because I felt like I had more to offer to the citizens of the U.S. So being able to come down here, I feel like I’m actually able to help people.”