Irma is forecast to impact Florida in the next 36 hours as an extremely risky Category 4 hurricane, the colonel said, with life-threatening wind impacts to much of the state and the danger of storm surges of up to 12 feet in southwest Florida and the Florida Keys if peak surge coincides with high tide.
The announcement confirmed Gov. Kenneth Mapp's statement at Thursday's press conference that the U.S. Department of Defense would send personnel.
DoD brings unique military capabilities that are effective in disaster relief efforts.
Wasp's helicopters are conducting medical evacuations for critical care patients from St. Thomas to St. Croix and conducting damage assessment in support of the government.
The governors of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida activated National Guard personnel to support state search and rescue and evacuation operations.
The Defense Logistics Agency has shipped more than a million shelf-stable meals to St. Thomas and 1.7 million liters of water to San Juan, Puerto Rico, via sealift, and is redistributing Hurricane Harvey commodities in support of the response to Irma, Davis said.
U.S. Northern Command has begun supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hurricane Irma response as the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp arrived in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the command said in a September 7 release.
Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of US Fleet Forces Command, also ordered the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima and amphibious transport dock ship USS New York to join the Lincoln to support federal, state and local authorities responding to the impending Category 4 hurricane and its aftermath.
Northcom is providing urban search and rescue capabilities in the Caribbean to assist with lifesaving and life-sustaining efforts. 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. Northern Command has identified incident support bases at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Fort A.P. Hill, Va.; Moody Air Force Base, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Robins Air Force Base, Ga., to support response and recovery operations for the East Coast.
The US Army Corps of Engineers was preparing to conduct port surveys and dredging missions to reopen ports after the hurricane passes. The corps is monitoring Lake Okeechobee to prepare for the possibility that heavy winds push floodwaters over the dike holding the lake. While no requests for assistance have been received from USAID, OFDA civilian-military coordinators are at USSOUTHCOM, USNORTHCOM and U.S. Embassy Haiti to plan for any potential requests.
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