BETHANY, Conn. --
On May 15, 2018, severe storms ripped through the state of Connecticut, devastating several towns. High winds, hail and tornados felled trees and powerlines, leaving many state residents without power and unable to gain access to main roads for several days. Faced with the overwhelming task of clearing the trees and debris from roads, local and state agencies received support from the Connecticut National Guard—the 103rd Airlift Wing responding to the town of Bethany on May 18.
“A tornado touched down in the town of Bethany, they called us up and we all responded,” said Master Sgt. Jim Mele, NCOIC of Power Production in the 103rd Airlift Wing’s Civil Engineer Squadron.
“We got a crew together of experienced chainsaw [and] equipment operators, dump trucks, everything that you need to clear the roads and make the roads safe and the town safe for the people to pass through,” said Mele.
Residents of Downs Road were appreciative of the 103rd’s efforts. Several stepped out of their homes when they saw the Airmen to thank them for their work.
“We’ve just been talking with the neighbors, talking with the town, talking with the fire department, clearing trees off the powerlines and out of the roads,” said Mele. “The trees have been all over people’s yards, the road, some houses, cars, basically everywhere.”
“It’s important for us to come out here because, basically, this is what we signed up for, we’re Connecticut Air National Guard, and we’re helping Connecticut,” said Mele.
“We’re helping the regular people that are stranded without power, probably without power for days if not weeks. It makes me feel proud to come out here and support Connecticut, support not only the guys I’m working with, but the local community.”