ORLANDO, Fla. –
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with the 76th Operational Response Command
and 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)
were called to support Hurricane Irma relief on Sept. 11, 2017.
Three days later, more than 40 of America’s Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to the 329th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Company, based in Orlando, and other nearby units, were handing out cases of bottled water to the residents of Merritt Island, Florida, on Sept 14.
“When my Soldiers received noticed they responded really quickly — everybody was ready and had volunteered just a day after Hurricane Irma had hit,” said 2nd Lt. Karla Carter, executive officer for the 329th CBRN Company. “They left their families and came over as quickly as possible. By 8 a.m. on Tuesday they were all on site and ready to work.”
After receiving a federal mission assignment (MA) officially requesting assistance, the Reserve Soldiers prepared equipment and vehicles, including several M1078 light medium utility vehicles (LMTVs) that can traverse rugged terrain and ford through high water.
“We had less than 24-hours notice,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Acosta, 3rd platoon sergeant for the 329th and acting first sergeant during the operation and an Orlando residenrt who works as a contractor for the Veterans’ Administration full-time. “But the Soldiers came in (to prepare) all the vehicles and get everything loaded up.”
The University of Central Florida provided overnight staging grounds for the Army Reserve units and their vehicles, who then traveled to Merritt Island, Florida, to distribute cases of bottled water to local residents. The Merritt Island area is still without safe, clean water sources.
“Now we’re distributing water to the city – the families here are still under boiled water notice,” Carter said. “The community has come by and thanked us, some of them have even brought gifts.”
“It’s a good thing, helping out, you know,” said Spc. Angelica Dobruck, an Army Reserve Soldier with the 143rd ESC whose home and family in Lake Wells, Florida, were also affected by Hurricane Irma. “We’re without power, without water. But I feel great about helping out here — we’re helping people in need.”
Acosta said the Army Reserve Soldiers are ready to continue their support in whatever capacity they’re needed.
“Everybody’s motivated, everybody’s happy,” Acosta said. “Everybody’s responding 100 percent for whatever we need from them.”