TSA Administrator John Pistole Visits New York and New Jersey Airports After Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

TSA Administrator John Pistole visited TSA employees in the New York/New Jersey region, making stops at LaGuardia, Newark-Liberty and JFK airports, in addition to meeting with representatives of the New York and New Jersey Federal Air Marshal Field Offices. Pistole thanked several of the more than 280 TSA officers who have come from around the country to supplement the JFK workforce, which was hit the hardest by the storm. He praised the resiliency of the TSA workforce, several who are still recovering from personal loss due to the storm.

The hurricane has passed, but the challenges, both immediate and long-term are great. TSA’s employees have “stepped up to the challenge and demonstrated your professionalism,” Pistole told a handful of employees he spoke with a few days after the storm. “You have an indomitable spirit.”

Groups of officers from Denver, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth along with officers who are part of TSA’s National Deployment Force remain on duty in the New York region to help ensure that TSA’s security operations continue post-hurricane.

In between flying missions, Federal Air Marshals are providing security for the water ferries, now a primary means of transportation for the area.

“Everyone is in the same situation here in New York,” says JFK TSA Officer Steven Camerino. “You do what you can to help out your neighbors and co-workers until you drop.”

“It is inspiring that you are here at work without electric power, or even a hot shower,” Pistole told officers at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). “I have a deep appreciation for what you are doing in the face of what Mother Nature has thrown at you.”

When Hurricane Sandy first slammed the New York region, TSA officer Anthony Crowley was one of several TSA employees who offered to help out when LaGuardia Airport closed down. Although typically dressed in a blue TSA uniform, Crowley was spotted by a young boy while walking through the terminal in jeans and a ball cap.

The little boy was one of about 30 people who were in the terminal, stranded in the storm, along with some families, couples and lone travelers. “He walked up to me and asked when they were going to get a food voucher,” Crowley said. “I told him to wait right there and I’d be back.”

Crowley, a resident of Brooklyn, knew that staffing at the airport was at a minimum and there was likely no one cooking in the terminal’s restaurants because airline service had been suspended. Most airport workers were dealing with flooded streets and homes without power. Plus, with New York’s mass transit system closed, the majority of airport workers could not get to the airport. With that in mind, Crowley knew that the stranded passengers probably didn’t have much to eat the past two days.

Crowley hopped in his personal vehicle and returned with 20 hot pizzas and three cases of bottled water to hand out. His treat. When he returned, some colleagues saw him hauling the pizzas and lent a hand in helping to distribute the meal.

“I love people and kids and it was really no big deal to me. It just came from the heart. In the grand picture, it was just a little gesture.”

After delivering the food, Crowley went back to his task for the day—phoning TSA employees to make sure that everyone was safe and ready to return to work when the airport becomes operational.