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Hundreds of members of the New York Army National Guard are helping in storm response

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Posted at 10:05 AM, Dec 28, 2022

BUFFALO (WKBW) — Hundreds of members of the New York Army National Guard have been deployed to Western New York to help in the relief efforts from the historic winter storm.

"The initial team that came out here was on Christmas Eve," Major Gary Barney said. "They got the building set up, started setting up our facilities, making sure we had personnel on the ground and all of our equipment ramped up."

Barney says that there are currently between 400-500 members of the National Guard in Western New York working to help in various ways.

"Everything we do is to support our state, local and county partners," said Barney. "It varies mission to mission, and day to day."

Ian Sinclair and Kevin Au are with the 107th Air National Guard and say it has been a very busy several days.

"We were first activated Friday and have been here ever since," said Au. "Mostly doing search and rescues, delivering supplies, helping patients get to the hospitals, helping medical professional get to hospitals."

One of the missions even included assisting a mother who went into labor during the height of the storm.

"Members of our team showed up and actually assisted in the birth of the child," said Sinclair "She needed to go to the hospital immediately so we were able to contact the plow services to get there and clear the roadways. The baby is a baby girl, she was born healthy. Baby and mother are at Children's Hospital safely."

From rescue missions to wellness checks, the work never ends. Tuesday, members of the National Guard cleared out a staging area at Buffalo State College.

"The staging area we are setting up is in support of the Department of Transportation," said Captain Stephen Bochenski, "They sent us here to backfill and assist them in getting all of these vehicles that are coming in from across the state to get checked in and get out on assignment."

Helping in any emergency response can make for long days for all involved, but Barney says morale is high, and the work has been rewarding.

"Honestly, I love doing civil support operations," said Barney. "I've been deployed a lot of times but stuff like this means a lot to me because you are helping out the people of your city, town and state. Serving them, it gives you a good feeling."

Barney said it remains unclear how long the National Guard will be in Western New York but he says his teams will work until the job is done.

This article was written by Jeff Russo for WKBW.