National Guard Members Return From Puerto Rico

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Four South Dakota National Guard soldiers are back in town after helping with relief efforts in Puerto Rico. It’s been about two and a half months since Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory and many Puerto Ricans are still struggling to live without electricity or clean running water.

“Every tree is down, people are still struggling, people are still not getting water or power,” says South Dakota National Guard member, Greg Beynon.

Seeing the impact of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is an experience these 4 South Dakota National Guard members say they will never forget. For more than six weeks, they spent hours disturbing more than 420,000 gallons of water to Puerto Rico residents.

“It felt great because all the people they were really grateful,” says South Dakota National Guard member, Roger Mitchell.

“Appreciate what you have because you never know when you might be out of power or not have water,” says South Dakota National Guard member, Ryan Sanden.

For one of them, the deployment meant even more than just helping out strangers. For Jorge Morales, Puerto Rico, is a place that’s close to his heart.

“I left the island everything was nice and pretty. So it was so different now, it was kind of tough,” says South Dakota National Guard member, Jorge Morales.

Jorge is from Puerto Rico and has family there as well. Being there to help his people recover is a responsibility he took pride in.

“To be able to help your people, your town, or just your island. It’s an honor,” says Morales.

The crew’s main duty was to replenish people’s water supply, which was a crucial necessity in the aftermath of the hurricane. Although the residents were the ones on the receiving end, they still felt the need to give back. Something the soldiers say was heartwarming.

“They’re the ones that need the water and they are still willing to offer us (water) because we were helping them,” says Beynon. “It’s a really good feeling to see that they were that appreciative of what we were doing for them,”

The soldiers also helped setup two water purification sites and two water distribution sites.

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