HAZARD, Ky. –
As relief supplies and donations pour into flood ravaged Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky National Guardsmen are working to distribute needed necessities.
Over two hundred National Guardsmen were needed to man point of distribution (POD) sites around the flood-affected counties and move donations to warehouses.
One of those Soldiers that stepped into help was Spc. Andrew Melton with Delta Company, 1-149th Infantry. He was in charge of the POD for Breathitt County at the First Church of God in Hazard.
Melton and his crew of 10 Soldiers have helped distribute over 5,200 meals and 5,600 cases of water in the past week and a half.
“Everybody is really thankful for what's going on here and really appreciative of it,” said Melton. “The community is really under some hardship due to the flooding and they really do appreciate of any kind of any kind of help and support that they can get.”
Melton said that there has been a lot of donations coming in to them from agencies around the state and the support they have been getting has been awesome to see.
“It's really amazing to see how much is coming in,” he said. There's been certain times where there is barely enough room to walk in between the aisles and the tables in the warehouse. There has been supplies stacked up, on, and around the tables to be given out, especially water. We’ve had 40 or 50 pallets of water sitting on the ground, and it keeps coming in as fast as it's going out.”
While visiting units in the field, Army Col. Tim Starke, 75th Troop Command commander and Director of Operations, had been surprised to see a specialist in charge of the POD in his daily update reports.
But when Starke met Melton at the site, he quickly realized that he was not your typical Army specialist.
Melton joined the Kentucky National Guard last year at the age of 39. He lives in Barbourville, Ky., and works as a firefighter for the Barbourville Fire Department.
He had put off joining despite feeling that it was something he’d been called to do. But after years of thinking about it, he finally joined.
“I kind of looked at it like it was my last chance to finally join and do something I always thought I should do,” he said about joining the Guard. “Helping people is of a passion of mine and just to get to help people and give back to the community that way. So I wanted to take it a step further in and serve in the National Guard. It's been really fulfilling and enjoyable thus far.”
Despite being in the Guard only a year, Melton has been busy with his unit and getting to be able to take part in such an important mission means a lot to him.
Melton and his crew plan to continue to serve the people in Breathitt County and wants them to know that he and his team are for the long run.
“We're here as long as they need us to assist,” he said. “Getting these provisions out to the community as long as people have a need.”