FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Fort Drum community is still trying to dig out following the historic holiday blizzard.
In days following the blizzard, snowbanks towered over houses in some communities and soldiers continues to shovel out their driveways.
But a group of 157 soldiers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team returned to Fort Drum as the storm dwindled down. Due to the storm, the team had a delayed return from a deployment in the Middle East. The soldiers were originally scheduled to be home by Christmas.
“We departed the Middle East on the 22nd of December,” 1BCT First Sergeant Travis Griffith explained. “So obviously a lot of emotions when you have 157 people that are redeploying and expecting to be home by Christmas.”
The soldiers spent Christmas in Colorado and finally arrived at Fort Drum on December 26. Greeting them were not only excited families and friends, but mountains of snow.
Days after their return, 1SG Griffith was still digging out. He said he had to replace a shovel due to the weight of the snow.
“I am replacing my shovel that broke yesterday trying to clean the snow so I could get out the back door of my house,” Griffith said.
Across the Fort Drum military base, families were also facing similar issues.
Staff Sergeant Trevor Stringer, who serves with the 511th Military Police shared that he had to shovel at least twice a day during the blizzard to keep up with the snow while his wife and kids were inside sick.
“We’ve been trapped for about a week,” SSG Stringer said. “I’m just trying to get our driveway clear. Our hot water went out due to our vent is on the side the wind blows to. It has been challenging.”
For some of Fort Drum’s newest soldiers, this winter weather season was their first time experiencing snow.
“I’ve never seen snow in general,” PFC Yeon Tomas shared, who is originally from Florida and serves with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry. “Seeing snow like this is completely different for me.”
PFC Ethan Worman, who also serves with 2-87, is from Indiana and said he had seen snow previously, but it does not compare to what he’s witnessed since arriving at Fort Drum this fall.
“We actually arrived from Fort Benning before that big snowstorm, then we went on leave and there was another big storm,” PFC Worman explained. “There’s just no way, we can’t even keep up with the snow.”
Although as of December 29, crews still worked to dig out the military base, but the soldiers said they were ready for what else the North Country this winter.
“Bring it on, I can’t wait,” PFC Worman said.