Pentagon Aids Response Efforts for Hurricane Irma

Sailors place evacuees in an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter during first response efforts in the US Virgin Islands, Sept. 7, 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The Defense Department is supporting Federal Emergency Management Agency in responding to the massive storm

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Washington, DC – The Defense Department is engaged with federal, state, territorial and international mission partners and is postured to respond to requests for assistance to territories and states affected by Hurricane Irma, according to a DoD news release issued yesterday.

Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, commander of U.S. Northern Command, is the lead for DoD’s domestic response, the release said.

The department, the release said, brings unique military capabilities that are effective in disaster relief efforts.

The release provided an update of DoD efforts:

— The governors of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Florida activated National Guardpersonnel to support state search and rescue and evacuation operations. There are 5,242 National Guard members available in Puerto Rico; 596 available in US Virgin Islands; and 8,052 in Florida.

— The USS Kearsarge and the USS Oak Hill with the Marine Corps’ 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff embarked, and will support response operations in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico starting today. The USS Iwo Jima and USS New York are preparing to provide additional support. The USS Wasp, along with the US Transportation Command, are executing patient evacuation operations in the US Virgin Islands.

— Northcom is providing urban search and rescue capabilities in the Caribbean to assist with lifesaving and life-sustaining efforts as Irma hits. The Defense Logistics Agency is providing generators, fuel, food, water and other life sustaining commodities to first responders and survivors. Specifically, DLA is providing 50,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline and 50,000 gallons of diesel to Warner Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, in support of potential requirements in the wake of Irma

— Northcom is developing logistics support solutions and has identified incident support bases at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Warner Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, to support response operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

— The US Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to conduct port surveys and dredging missions to reopen ports after the storm Irma passes. The Corps of Engineers has deployed power teams and debris removal experts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to conduct assessments and restoration activities. In Florida, the Corps of Engineers is closely monitoring the levels of Lake Okeechobee and the surrounding Herbert Hoover Dike.

US Southern Command and Northcom remain in close coordination with the US Agency for International Development, through the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, which leads and coordinates all US government international disaster assistance. While no requests for assistance have been received from USAID, OFDA civilian-military coordinators are at Southcom, Northcom and the US Embassy in Haiti to plan for any potential requests post-Irma.

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