DOD News

The Defense Department and partner agencies are supporting ongoing assessment and response operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said today in a statement.

DOD continues to meet all Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements, and more, he added.

Meanwhile, Davis said, U.S. Northern Command estimates being able to increase the airlift flow rate from 3-6 aircraft per hour to 10 aircraft per hour into Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – for a total of 240 aircraft per day over the next 24 hours.

DOD is sourcing FEMA’s request for additional medical support to both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Davis said.

Also, FEMA is preparing to ship 350 satellite telephones to facilitate response communications across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, he added.

Photo credit Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks

Tech. Sgt. Brian Thompkins, 921st Contingency Response Squadron weather forecaster, sets up a Tactical Airfield Weather Center at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25.

Puerto Rico Update

In Puerto Rico, the power utility is slowly restoring power to customers, including the Centro Medico Hospital in San Juan and San Pablo Hospital in Bayamon. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reports that generators on the island are operational; however 80 percent of the transmission system and 100 percent of the distribution system are damaged.

Approximately 44 percent of Puerto Rico’s population is without drinking water and only 11 of 69 hospitals have fuel or power. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is moving providing electricity for hospitals with generators acquired by the Defense Logistics Agency and shipped by U.S. Transportation Command.

The Corps of Engineers assessed the condition of the Puerto Rico’s Guajataca Dam – that dam was earlier reported “cracked” and in danger of imminent failure – and found it intact but in need of reinforcement to ensure stability. Army engineers are consulting with the dam owner on risk mitigation.

San Juan International and seven other airports in Puerto Rico are open, or open with restrictions – typically daylight operations only.

The Port of San Juan and seven other sea ports are open or open with restrictions.

Photo credit Air Force photo by Don Peek

Air Force medical personnel assist patients aboard a C-17A aircraft following their evacuation from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 23, 2017, in Hurricane Maria’s aftermath. The aircraft transported the patients to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., where they were transferred to Atlanta-area medical facilities.

U.S. Virgin Islands Update

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, power was restored to St. Croix’s main water production plant and it is now producing water. Airports in St. Croix and St. Thomas are open for relief operations only and a mobile air traffic control tower is scheduled for delivery to St. Croix today. The mobile tower in St. Thomas is operational only during daylight and nine seaports are open.

DoD Response Details: Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

A joint Army National Guard and Marine Expeditionary Unit team is coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard to maximize search-and-rescue efforts, supporting re-establishment of an air/land/sea distribution network and coordinating with the Roosevelt Roads Airfield airport manager to finalize plans to use the airport as a logistic hub and relieve pressure on Puerto Rico’s San Juan Airport.

United States Transportation Command (Transcom) is scheduled to lift eight additional helicopters to Puerto Rico today. DOD is sourcing FEMA requirements for additional medical support including a medical/surgical treatment facility with 50-bed inpatient care, ground and air ambulances, five medical teams and airlift for civilian ambulance capabilities in Puerto Rico. For St. Croix, a 50-bed medical/surgical facility is in the works.

Restoration of the Combined/Center Radar Approach Control facility in Puerto Rico, which controls the air traffic control for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is enabling a substantial increase in aircraft flow rate. Transcom executed three strategic lift missions into Puerto Rico and four lifts to the U.S. Virgin Islands yesterday, and is planning nine missions into Puerto Rico and six missions into the U.S. Virgin Islands today.

Photo credit Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Levingston Lewis

Naval Petty Officer 2nd Class Logan Parkinson surveys damage on the island of Dominica, Sept. 23.

Foreign Disaster Assistance

In the Caribbean region, U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Leeward Islands continues to support State Department humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations in the Leeward and Windward Islands, conducting search and rescue operations and evacuating U.S. citizens. The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp delivered 2,000 pounds of food to Ross Medical University on Dominica.

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