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Troopers helping Sandy victims in NJ

While Maryland has mostly recovered from last week's Hurricane Sandy, there are still many East Coast areas picking up the pieces from the heavy damage inflicted by the storm.

According to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, as of 7 a.m. Friday there were more than 240,000 power outages across the state. More than 32,000 of those outages are a result of a winter storm that hit the area this week, according to the office's statistics.

This week, the Maryland State Police joined in the relief effort in New Jersey and sent a team of 25 troopers to the region. There, the troopers have provided law enforcement services in Monmouth and Ocean counties. The troopers all volunteered for the detail, and one of the volunteers came from the Westminster barrack.

Trooper Daxton Bury, a road trooper at the barrack for more than five years, traveled with the team that left Nov. 4 to help aid in the region's recovery efforts.

Bury, who lives Essex, was unavailable to comment while he is in New Jersey because the troopers are working around-the-clock while there, said Westminster barrack Commander Lt. Rob Stryjewski. On their first day, they worked 22-hour shifts.

"Whether you are a trooper or a citizen who sees the devastation on the television, you cannot help but be moved to help," Stryjewski said. "We as troopers are fortunate that we can physically help our neighbors to the north."

The troopers are working to assist with families who have not yet been able to return to their homes, and at night, they are working to ensure there are no issues of theft, stealing or looting, said Col. Marcus Brown, superintendent of the Maryland State Police.

The team from the state police is equipped with an array of expertise, including canine tracking, search and rescue, underwater recovery and marine operation, paramedic certification, criminal investigation and special weapons and tactics.

They will return to Maryland today, and another team of 25 troopers will travel back to New Jersey to continue the recovery effort.

Already, half of the troopers there now have volunteered to return for the second deployment, Brown said.

Bury is one of the troopers to volunteer for another week of duty. Next week, he will be joined by fellow barrack trooper, Cpl. Doug Reiner, who volunteered his services.

Reiner, a New York native, is a road corporal for the barrack.

Before beginning work for the state police, he spent 10 years living in New Jersey including time as a volunteer emergency medical technician in the state, and still has many friends and family in the area.

For him, the decision to volunteer was a no-brainer.

Reiner has spent vacations in places like Cape May and Atlantic City, areas left devastated by Sandy.

"It's so weird because it's such a staple in the community that when you see the devastation, it's so shocking," said Reiner, referring to the shore line. "It's really upsetting to see a lot of the areas being destroyed."

Reiner is new to the Westminster barrack, coming on in August when he was promoted from computer crimes, according to Stryjewski.

"They're leaving their homes to go up there and help. It makes you proud of them for volunteering," Stryjewski said.

The worst of circumstances tend to bring out the best in the troopers, Brown said.

Many of the state police troopers have dealt with power outages and flooding of their own from the storm, and have recognized the importance of helping others, Brown said.

"I always say that's the reason that they signed up to take this job," Brown said. "And every time that they step up for an assignment like this, it's just a pretty overwhelming feeling of pride in the organization."

The Maryland State Police has a long tradition of helping in times of need, Stryjewski said, whether in or out of the state. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, the state police deployed troopers to Louisiana to help in the recovery effort, Stryjewski said. The agency mobilizes troops for every impending storm to ensure public safety.

"We are very proud to serve not only the citizens of Maryland, but anywhere we are needed," Stryjewski said.

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