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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 499-98
September 24, 1998

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE RESPONDS, PREPARESFOR HURRICANE GEORGES

The Department of Defense is poised to continue providing recovery support to victims of Hurricane Georges in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and is preparing for humanitarian response as the storm moves toward the Florida coast.

Working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is purchasing one million pounds of ice and one million gallons of water for distribution in Puerto Rico, and providing emergency debris clearance, removal and disposal. Two platoons of the 249th Engineer Battalion are onsite in Puerto Rico to assist in restoring electrical power.

The Air Force already has begun delivering generators, vehicles and support personnel to Puerto Rico.

Cargo aircraft involved are two C-130 Hercules from Pope Air Force Base, N.C.; one each C-5 Galaxy from Dover Air Force Base, Del. and Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y.; four C-17Globemaster IIIs from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. and two C-141 Starlifters from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.

Two C-130s remain positioned at Roosevelt Roads for ongoing recovery and FEMA-related missions.

Two North Carolina Air National Guard C-130s evacuated nearly 100 hospital patients from facilities in Key West and Marathon.

The Florida National Guard has called up 2,500 Army and Air National Guard members for state active duty to prepare for anticipated evacuation, security and public safety missions.

Similarly, the Secretary of Transportation has now authorized the involuntary recall of up to 350 Coast Guard reservists for assistance in Hurricane Georges operations.

At South Florida and Gulf Coast military installations, soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen have already begun moving aircraft and vessels or providing secure facilities in hangars or protected waters.

At Key West Naval Air Station, all active duty and civilian dependents evacuated.

At Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., the 125Fighter Wing, Detachment 1, Florida Air National Guard, evacuated three F-16 alert aircraft to Jacksonville, Fla.

At MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., four KC-135R tankers were relocated to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas and one deployed to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

At Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. preparations are underway to disconnect electrical power to non-essential facilities and to evacuate aircraft, if necessary.

At Mayport, Fla., decisions are pending for aircraft and vessel relocation for 21 ships, including the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, and 78 SH-60 Seahawk helicopters.

At Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Cecil Field, Fla., aircraft and vessels are also awaiting relocation decisions for 174 FA-18 Hornet strike fighters, 72 P-3 Orion observation aircraft and 43 SH-60 Seahawk, HH-60 and SH-3 Seaking helicopters.

Sailors at Gulf Coast Navy installations in Pensacola, Fla.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Ingleside, Texas and New Orleans, La. have relocated 13 vessels.

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