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DoD Supports Hurricane Recovery

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 1999 – As the East Coast braced for Hurricane Floyd, DoD helped local authorities evacuate coastal areas and prepared to support recovery operations in the wake of the massive storm.

Hurricane Floyd made landfall at Wilmington, N.C., about 2:30 a.m. Sept. 16, with winds up to 125 mph and 19 inches of rain. The storm caused high seas, flash flooding and power outages, but lost much of its punch as it progressed up the eastern seaboard.

The military moved more than 600 ships and aircraft out of harm's way ahead of the hurricane, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said here. Navy helicopter search and rescue teams from the USS John F. Kennedy pulled eight people from the Atlantic after their civilian tugboat capsized off the coast of Florida Sept. 15.

"Obviously flying in tricky, strong winds can't be easy," Bacon said, "but Navy helicopter pilots spend a lot of time flying in adverse conditions and they clearly were well- trained for this mission and carried it out very well."

The storm caused relatively light damage at military installations according to initial reports, Bacon said. "Thankfully, many of the bases in Florida and Georgia escaped injury because the storm wasn't as severe or ferocious down there as we at one time expected," he said.

As the storm neared the U.S. coast, the Army began 24-hour operations from its emergency operations center in the Pentagon. Coordinating officers went to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to work with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials.

FEMA, the government's lead agency charged with overseeing domestic disaster relief, gave $2.5 million in mission assignments to the Army Corps of Engineers for emergency preparation and recovery from Hurricane Floyd. This included deploying teams to distribute 700,000 pounds of ice and 450,000 gallons of water.

The Corps of Engineers put 38 planning and response teams on alert. The five- to six-person teams arranged for emergency power, temporary roofing, housing, debris clearance and other essential services.

The corps also deployed two vehicle-mounted tactical operations centers from Mobile, Ala., to a preliminary mobilization staging site at Fort Gillem, Ga. The self- contained command centers have independent power supplies and communications systems to coordinate relief operations.

Company B of the Armys 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power), from Fort Bragg, N.C., arrived at Fort Gillem, Sept. 16, to prepare 280 generators that will be deployed to support FEMA requests for power at hospitals, shelters, water plants and other key facilities.

More than 8,000 Army and Air National Guard from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia helped local authorities evacuate coastal residents and cope with the expected storm damage. More than 3 million people evacuated from the path of the approaching hurricane.

As people left low-lying coastal areas, Guardsmen helped local law enforcement protect property, control traffic and provide temporary shelter. They also prepared to provide search and rescue operations, logistical support, communications, engineering and debris removal in the wake of the hurricane.

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