Hometown Heroes: Georgia Army National Guard

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Local members of the Georgia Army National Guard had the helicopters and the capacity to help people in hurricane-torn Puerto Rico.

There were miles of sky and weeks of work behind them as they returned home, but a part of the Georgia National Guard will always remain in Puerto Rico.

"The last week I was there, it seemed as if Puerto Rico was starting to turn the corner," said CWO Mark Morris, Georgia Army National Guard.

Local guardsmen deployed for six weeks of relief work, helping repair the damage Hurricane Maria caused - fixing a dam and reinstalling power poles destroyed in the storm - doing what they could to put a dent in the destruction.

"It kind of seemed at times we were never going to get back home, but it was fun and enjoyable. It was great to be able to help somebody; do something to help people in need," said Sgt. Jimmy Warren, Georgia Army National Guard.

"Just to know you're going to have a concrete impact on peoples' lives in a positive way I think was really cool."

Chief Warrant Officer Mark Morris has done relief work for almost 20 years.

"Katrina, Wilma, Ike, and then the Waycross fires of '97, the Ludowici fires of '11..."

He says his experience in Puerto Rico was different.

"Here in the states after a big disaster like Matthew or Irma or Sandy, the utility trucks can just roll up the highway, can just roll in to start work. That's their big challenge is getting resources and people there that are qualified to do the work," CWO Morris said.

That was the guardsmen. The WTOC Hometown Heroes who moved materials into place and were moved by the island's reaction to them.

"People would line the side of the interstate to wave and take pictures and hold up signs that said thank you," Sgt. Warren said.

"On a weekend, you had almost an airshow presence at some of the airports where they would just come out and watch what was going on because they really didn't have anything else to do because their power was off. It was very positive," CWO Morris said.

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