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National Guard deployed to aid hurricane victims

Members of the 117th National Guard Battalion that is comprised of armories in Andalusia, Geneva and Greenville continue to aid the community in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.

Since Friday, members have been handing out bags of ice and bottled water at the Butler County Fairgrounds. According to Lt. David Simmons, the unit commander, the men are enjoying the idea they can help their own community on this mission.

&uot;They enjoy helping the people they know and live around,&uot; Simmons said.

‘Many have said this why they are in the National Guard.&uot;

He said unlike other missions, for many of the men in the unit, this one allows them to go home for short periods of time.

&uot;They get to chance to go home and take a hot shower and see their families,&uot; he said.

&uot;Many of them have had some type of storm related problems themselves and with being here, they can check on things.&uot;

One of those working with the public is Sgt. 1st Class Mike Lewis who lives in Greenville.

He said this mission is different for them because they know the people they’re helping.

&uot;It is a different feeling to help the community and to know the people you help on a first name basis,&uot; he said.

&uot;The guys are excited about helping people here.&uot;

Another Greenvillian working at the distribution point is Staff Sgt. Chuck Armstrong.

&uot;It feels good to support the community,&uot; he said.

&uot;We’ve heard a lot of sad stories about people who have lost everything.

Ice and water is not that much, but it’s better than nothing.&uot;

He said they understood that Butler County was not as damaged as other parts of the state farther south, but this is by far, the worst damage he has seen in his lifetime.

Specialist David Jones is from Brantley and he said it is important for him to be here so others can be helped.

&uot;I enjoy working with the people in the community,&uot; he said.

&uot;I believe we don’t do enough for our communities.

Most of the people have been very patient and understanding.

On Tuesday, the guard members began distributing military &uot;Meals Ready to Eat&uot; or MREs at the fairgrounds.

People needing water and ice are encouraged to visit them.

Simply pull up, pop your trunk and the soldiers will even load it for you.

The ice and water will continue until it is not needed.

Lewis said he wished to thank the public who continues to bring them food at the armory and also local businesses around town.

He said Hardees and McDonalds provided breakfast for the troops, whole Super Foods, Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart and Piggly Wiggly have also provided food for them.