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News Release


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 509-95
September 18, 1995

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT AIDS IN HURRICANE RELIEF

As Hurricane Marilyn moves away from the Caribbean, The Department of Defense continues to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency in providing disaster relief to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Secretary of the Army Togo D. West, Jr., is the Defense official responsible for coordinating DoD support for federal disaster relief operations. Through the Army's Director of Military Support in the Pentagon, requests for support from FEMA are being forwarded to United States Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Va. USACOM then coordinates the necessary support made available from every Defense Department agency. Two Defense Coordinating Officers with operational staffs are in the area and are coordinating with FEMA representatives on site.

Requests for air transport lead the list of requests from FEMA currently being supported by DoD. The Air Force has positioned airfield operations control teams at the airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix in an effort to speed the flow of relief personnel and supplies. U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.,is currently supporting more than 25 requests to fly emergency response teams, urban search and rescue units, and other critical assets to the region from points across the United States.

The National Airborne Operations Center, a specially modified Boeing 747 equipped with state of the art communications equipment, was provided to FEMA to use on scene. The NAOC arrived in Puerto Rico with FEMA s National Emergency Response Team just before midnight. This is the first time the NAOC has been used for diaster relief. Deployment of FEMA s Field Assessment Team and Mobile Air Transportable Telecommunications System was also completed yesterday.

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Several air transport missions have been completed in the last 24 hours including movement of a FEMA Incident Support Team, news media, and FBI personnel and equipment to St. Thomas. Eight C-130 cargo planes have been provided for inter-island transport of personnel and equipment between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

In another first, a specialized Army reconnaissance aircraft, provided by the U.S. Southern Command in Quarry Heights, Panama, will arrive this afternoon to fly damage assessment missions, the first to be completed before day s end.

Three Air Force bases -- McGuire, NJ, Charleston, SC, and Carswell, Texas have been designated as staging areas to receive and prepare General Services Administration supplies for movement. TRANSCOM will continue to deploy personnel and equipment to and between the islands.

If necessary, a field-capable military treatment facility and personnel will deploy to St. Thomas to work jointly with and support the U.S. Public Health Service. Defense officials are coordinating with the Public Health Service to determine the appropriate type and configuration of the treatment facility.

The Army Corps of Engineers is performing ten emergency support missions in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. These include assisting to provide emergency water and power, and assessing temporary housing requirements. The Corps is deploying three electric power teams to assess and establish emergency power to critical facilities.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has 561 Army National Guardsmen and 27 Air National Guardsmen on territorial active duty. Their primary focus is security and search and rescue. Puerto Rico has 352 Army National Guardsmen and one Air National Guardsman on territorial active duty primarily conducting security missions. For additional information contact Army Public Affairs at 703-697-7589.