By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News
About 13,700 Defense Department personnel are now in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria ravaged the region three weeks ago, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said.
DOD, supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is focused on temporary power restoration; food, water, fuel and power generator distribution; medical support; route clearance; aviation support and repair of the fragile Guajataca Dam, he said.
U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has the DOD lead in disaster response and relief efforts in both U.S. territories. Davis said the command has deployed food, water and key DOD capabilities, including elements of the 633rd Expeditionary Medical Support hospital to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The number of aircraft deployed to the U.S. territories totals 92 rotary-wing and 19 fixed-wing airplanes, he noted. A key incident support base distribution hub for the western region of Puerto Rico also has been set up in Aguadilla, the spokesman said.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort is providing medical support operations in Aguadilla. Elements of the 14th Combat Support Hospital are arriving in Humacao, where the hospital is scheduled to open tomorrow, Davis said.
U.S. Transportation Command has aeromedical evacuation assets in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for patients who require moves to hospitals stateside.
DOD personnel have installed 81 generators on the island and provided 273 of 423 generator inspections prior to installation, he said.
Service members are progressing in clearing routes from storm damage, and the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command is taking the lead for water production near Guajataca Dam.
Defense Logistics Agency personnel are charged with delivering 2.5 million meals each day through Nov. 5, he said.
All elements of the 575th Area Support Medical Company have arrived in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Davis said, and a mobile medical center is expected to be fully operational by tomorrow.