ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State Troopers returned home Friday, October 7, after their trip to Puerto Rico assisting in recovery from Hurricane Fiona. A couple of NYS Troopers were kind enough to share their experience.
This trip was not the first time Trooper David Faggins-Flores or Trooper Kaleb Gohlke assisted in Hurricane relief. Faggins-Flores, a Puerto Rico native, was first deployed to Puerto Rico in November 2017 following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Gohlke, who is part of the NYS swift water response team was deployed last year to Long Island to assist with Hurricane relief. The Troopers reported to the southern part of Puerto Rico this year which took a direct hit bringing destructive winds and rain, causing certain areas to flood. Many people were without water and electricity for weeks after Hurricane Fiona. Gohlke comments that loss of water and power are easier to help with and that the mission turned to assist with water and food distribution until power could be restored to traffic lights.
The NYS Troopers’ primary role after power was restored was to help the Puerto Rico Police Department with traffic control and other law enforcement as needed. Faggins-Flores believes “our help made a positive impact being that we were able to alleviate some of the tasks the Puerto Rico Police Department were doing by themselves. Being a law enforcement official, it is in our core to assist people in whatever way possible.”
Gohlke thanks those he worked with for making the Troopers feel at home while helping. He states, “I miss the people I worked with every day for two weeks. Agent Myrna Montañez and Agent Ruben Castillo were ambassadors for their agency and made me and other Troopers on deployment feel at home. We keep in contact still via messenger, so going home was bittersweet. At the same time our mission was complete, and we assisted in what way we could.”
When reflecting on the experience as a whole Faggins-Flores states, “It was a great experience for me, humanitarian work is very fulfilling. It’s humbling when we see people go through a catastrophic event like this and yet still have a smile on their face.” Faggins-Flores feels it was an honor to assist the people of Puerto Rico while representing the New York State Police. Gohlke also thanks the people of Puerto Rico and anyone that volunteered to help.