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Air Guard wings line up at Savannah for Maria recovery

ANG, Maria, Hurricane Maria, Georgia Air National Guard

A team of Air National Guard aerial porters from the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah onload a palette of water destined for St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Sept. 22, 2017. More than four tons of water and food will be delivered to people affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Chelsea Smith)

ANG, Maria, Hurricane Maria, Georgia Air National Guard

Air National Guard C-130 cargo aircraft from Georgia, North Carolina and Puerto Rico are at staging operation on the 165th Airlift Wing flight line in Savannah, Ga., Sept. 22, 2017, for Hurricane Maria joint disaster recovery. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Chelsea Smith)

ANG, Maria, Hurricane Maria, Georgia Air National Guard

More than four tons of water and meals ready-to-eat are onloaded to a C-130H aircraft at the 165th Airlift Wing Sept. 22, 2017. Members of the Air National Guard are delivering food and water to victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The Air National Guard concurrently dispatched several units from across the country to aid relief efforts of Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Chelsea Smith)

ANG, Maria, Hurricane Maria, Georgia Air National Guard

Tech Sgt. Justin Douglas and Staff Sgt. Lawrence Harvey, two 165th Airlift Wing crew chiefs, fix an air deflective door actuator, at the hub and spoke operations center staged at the Savannah Air National Guard. The pair are part of an Air National Guard effort to respond in the aftermath of superstorms Irma and Maria, which ravished several Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Chelsea Smith)

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Air National Guard Airmen began lining up operations for aircraft, cargo, and passengers through Savannah Air National Guard Base here Sept. 22 to support the recovery and relief operations after Hurricane Maria lined up to pulverize Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced disaster declarations shortly after Maria passed over the islands to be among the strongest recorded hurricanes to hit the United States. It followed two other major hurricanes making landfall this month.

The Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing at Savannah Air National Guard Base is serving as a hub and spoke operation for aircraft flying to and from the disaster areas, as well as flying missions.

Aircraft from California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, and Rhode Island were among the other Air National Guard flights expected to begin airlift from here as airfields reopen on the islands.

The wing is a C-130 cargo aircraft unit, and its mission is to prepare, load, and support arriving aircraft with critical supplies to the disaster areas.

“This 165th has the right Airmen with the right capability to work with other units coming here from across the nation in support of FEMA, and we will help ensure airlift gets to those in the affected areas during their time of need,” said Col. Pete Boone, the wing's vice commander.

“We are on duty as long as we are needed,” said Boone.

As of Friday, 759 Air National Guard Airmen are deployed to the Joint Operations Area – Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

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