DoD Continues Caribbean, Florida Hurricane Response Operations

WASHINGTON --

The Defense Department continues its response to "significant" levels of destruction throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean locales, while posturing forces to support the response to Hurricane Irma in Florida, DoD spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said today in a statement.

Kentucky Air and New York Air National Guard depart St. Croix for St. Thomas for rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and New York Air National Guard’s 109th Rescue Wing prepare to depart St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, for St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Sept. 8, 2017. The Kentucky airmen are facilitating the evacuation of hundreds of U.S. citizens from the Virgin Islands. Photo by Air Force Lt. Col. Dale Greer
Kentucky Air and New York Air National Guard depart St. Croix for St. Thomas for rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Kentucky Air Guardsmen evacuate hundreds from Virgin Islands
Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and New York Air National Guard’s 109th Rescue Wing prepare to depart St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, for St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Sept. 8, 2017. The Kentucky airmen are facilitating the evacuation of hundreds of U.S. citizens from the Virgin Islands. Photo by Air Force Lt. Col. Dale Greer

DoD is evacuating U.S. citizens from St. Martin in response to a State Department request, Davis added.

Irma is currently a Category 3 hurricane that’s expected to reach the southern Florida coast early tomorrow morning, according to news reports.

Virgin Island, Puerto Rico Operations

Regarding operations in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the commander of Task Force-89 with the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked and the amphibious assault ship USS Oak Hill arrived on station in the Virgin Islands. The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York, and the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln departed Norfolk, Virginia, Sept. 8 to support the response to Hurricane Irma. The vessels will adjust course to avoid Hurricane Jose.

Assets from U.S. Transportation Command and the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp evacuated patients from St. Thomas to St. Croix and Puerto Rico for hospital care.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to assist with disaster assessment in the Virgin Island-Puerto Rico area today, and will have power restoration teams in the area. The Army engineers are assisting with debris management, and working with the U.S. Coast Guard to re-open ports. The Corps of Engineers is posturing temporary housing teams for deployment if or when requested.

The Defense Logistics Agency is coordinating movement of life-sustaining commodities such as food and water to the Virgin Island-Puerto Rico region.

Florida

In Florida, search and rescue forces, strategic and vertical lift, planning, communication and medical capabilities are preparing to facilitate a timely post-Irma-landfall response.

DLA is positioning a second Distribution Expeditionary Package at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, sourcing 51 high-end generators to stage at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and transporting food to two bases in Alabama and one in North Carolina.

The Corps of Engineers will monitor Lake Okeechobee for storm-driven over wash and is posturing temporary housing and power generation teams.

U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Transportation Command are responding to requests for strategic lift to move U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responders into Florida and to support aeromedical evacuation of up to 560 patients per day.

Meanwhile, U.S. Southern Command is employing five C-130 aircraft to evacuate American citizens from St. Martin to Puerto Rico. Southcom assets evacuated 158 American citizens yesterday, and the command expects to evacuate approximately 700 more today. Evacuations will continue following the passage of Hurricane Jose.

The U.S. Agency for International Development reports no humanitarian requirement for Haiti and the Dominican Republic. USAID is anticipating requests for humanitarian assistance from the Bahamas.