More Ohio National Guard Soldiers headed to help in Puerto Rico

The Ohio National Guard will send 40 soldiers from the 137th Signal Company from Newark to Puerto Rico to help with rebuilding. (WSYX/WTTE)

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico the Army Ohio National Guard is stepping up and sending more help.

Forty soldiers from the 137th Signal Company from Newark, are scheduled to leave Thursday from the Rickenbacker Air National Guard base in Columbus.

"We were advised this morning that we were flying out," said the 137th Signal Company Commander Captain Denise Stewart.

A quick turn around for these Ohioan guardsmen and women. It's their first deployment to help in hurricane relief efforts. So far, more than 200 Ohio National Guard soldiers and airmen are in Puerto Rico right now.

"This is what we've been trained to do, this is why most of us have joined, to be able to assist, to be able to help in anyway we can," said Captain Stewart.

Puerto Rican officials say the death toll is up to 45 people and more than 100 people are unaccounted. The majority of the island is still without power because of Hurricane Maria. That's why this any kind of help is much needed.

Wednesday afternoon, Ohio soldiers loaded a C-17 plane that came from Memphis, with supplies. Their mission: to provide communication support like mobile satellites, electricity, humvees, internet and video conferencing, and much more.

"We'll be taking communication equipment, going down to Puerto Rico to assist with communications and hopefully providing coverage for the whole island," stated Cpt. Stewart.

The island is still in shambles, but these Ohioans said they'll be there for the long haul.

"However long we're needed," said Cpt. Stewart.

The type of communication support will be primarily for first responders. The plane is scheduled to leave Thursday morning.

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