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Sandbagging Sandy 
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FREETOWN, Mass. - Pvt. Michael Alves (left) from Wareham, and Pvt. Carlton Gillette of Fall River work to secure sandbags along with other members of alpha Battery, 101st Field Artillery Regiment in preparation for potential flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alfred Tripolone III, 65th Public Affairs Operations Center)

FREETOWN, Mass. - Mary Elizabeth Heffernan, Secretary of Public Safety and Security, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard  survey the sandbagging operations here, Oct 29, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alfred Tripolone III, 65th Public Affairs Operations Center)

Story by Sgt. Alfred Tripolone III, 65th Public Affairs Operations Center 

FREETOWN, Mass. – “Today we’re helping out with sandbagging in Freetown,” said 1st Lt. Chris Ocasio, Alpha Battery, 101st Field Artillery, the officer in charge of sandbagging operations, here. “We’ve done about 3,200 sandbags in the last 15 hours.”

As the state braced for the impact of Hurricane Sandy, Monday, hundreds of Massachusetts National Guardsmen prepared to leave the comfort of their homes, to help ensure the welfare of their families and neighbors.

“We got the call about noon yesterday,” said Ocasio. “We reported to the armory about 3 p.m. and then we rolled out here at 5p.m. and have been here ever since.”

There have been Soldiers working in shifts ever since their arrival, here.

“We have 23 Soldiers activated right now, with another 10 being activated as we speak. They’re doing eight-hour shifts on and then eight-hour shifts down, followed by another eight-hour shift back at the worksite,” Ocasio said.

Gordon Costa, a foreman for the Mass Highway came in early in preparation for the damage caused by the hurricane, he was greeted by a crew of Guardsmen making sandbags.

“They seem to be doing a good job,” said Costa. “I came in at 4 o’clock this morning and everyone was working.”

The second shift of Soldiers came in shortly thereafter and transitioned seamlessly with the first team, Costa said.

The sandbags will be used along the coast of south eastern Massachusetts and anywhere else flooding is expected.

Without the help of the Massachusetts National Guard, the sandbag initiative wouldn’t be able to happen, said Costa.

“A little bit from one agency and a little bit from another agency,” Costa continued. “It all adds up in the end.”

As the full scope of the damage from Hurricane Sandy is assessed, Guardsmen will be deployed as needed throughout the state. 

10/29/2012