Thousands of miles away, Fort Sam helping with relief effort in Puerto Rico

Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan arrived in Puerto Rico on Thursday night. His job as the ground leader of the Department of Defense is to help FEMA and the Governor of Puerto Rico.

SAN ANTONIO - The destruction in Puerto Rico is hard to look at, and the fact that the disaster hit an island adds to the problem.

"It's so far away," Master Sergeant David Mercado said. "We can't just take a bunch of trucks and go over there."

Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan arrived in Puerto Rico on Thursday night.  His job as the ground leader of the Department of Defense is to help FEMA and the Governor of Puerto Rico.

"What he is doing is responding with the assets and capabilities of what we have on the ground right now, and those are critical life-sustaining and life-saving capabilities," Brigadier General John B. Hashem said.

San Antonio is almost 2,200 miles away from Puerto Rico, but inside a room at Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston, there is a group of military and civilian personnel working to get the island of Puerto Rico the help it needs.

"We enable [Lt. Gen. Buchanan's] response by prioritizing and anticipating the needs he'll have on the ground in the near future," Brig. Gen. Hashem said.

"We coordinate with Air Force and Navy personnel to get supplies over there and provide logistic support and search and rescue," Master Sgt. Mercado added. "We help keep people from losing lives, and help the Governor of Puerto Rico to get the island back in order."

It's a non-stop, 24/7 operation. Items like fuel, food, and water are obvious needs, but even helicopters and heavy equipment is needed in Puerto Rico as well. Whether by air, sea, and eventually land, Army North will be a huge part of the recovery.

"We're here to help them make sure everything can get back to normal," Mercado said.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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