The U.S. military is sending aid down south to help recovery efforts for Hurricane Irma, the Pensacola News Journal reports.
The bulk of the assistance comes from the Army, sending 9,900 National Guard soldiers and Corps of Engineers members to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, along with six aircraft, 500 trucks and 80 generators. A further 150 aircraft, 3,000 trucks, 150 boats and 600 generators remain on standby.
According to Military.com, the National Guard Bureau has 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, and 100 helicopters on standby as well.
In addition to the Army, the Navy sent seven ships to parts of the Caribbean affected by the storm to help evacuate medical patients in need of critical care from St. Thomas to St. Croix, as well as preparing to take part in search and rescue missions. Two, the USS Oak Hill and the USS Kearsarge, where originally deployed to assist with Texas' hurricane recovery, but were moved north of St. Croix last week.
"These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, and bring a diverse capability including assessment, security, route clearance and water purification,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement last week, according to The Hill.
The USS Iwo Jima and USS New York left port in Florida last week to bring sailors and Marines from up north. A Pentagon spokesperson told McClatchy that "as Irma clears, airfields will be established in southern Florida and support operations from the sea with air assets provided” by the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS San Jacinto, the four of which can act as floating platforms.
The Coast Guard is conducting flights to monitor damage and pollution while preparing to assist in search and rescue missions.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott activated 4,000 National Guard troops on Friday, with hopes to activate all 8,000 eventually. Puerto Rico also activated its 5,200 troops, while the U.S. Virgin Islands called upon their 700 National Guard members.
A 24-hour call center for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command has been established in Pensacola Naval Air Station to support 16 Navy bases in the region.
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