RELIEF - DOD leans forward to help hurricane victims

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Relief for Puerto Rico is an all-hands operation, Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White said Oct. 5.


The Department of Defense continues to support the Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency as well as federal government and civilian agencies, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, White said.

To date, the department has deployed more than 11,000 active duty and National Guard troops; dispatched 80 tilt- and rotary-wing aircraft; provided 5.8 million liters of water; 7.3 million meals; 22,000 coats; 11,000 tarps; 278 generators; and more than 100 field trucks and drivers, she said.

The number of troops dedicated to the mission will rise as they are needed, said White, who noted DOD personnel have been instrumental in opening nine critical seaports, and 10 airports.

Their work was critical to delivering relief supplies to the island, she said.

The spokeswoman noted that the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in
San Juan carrying a crew that provides patients a full suite of medical care, including surgical, pediatric and trauma support. The ship has beds for 250 patients.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been on the ground installing generators at
critical nodes. These include generators at 66 hospitals. A total of 15 hospitals are working off the power grid and 51 are operating on generator power.

The Corps of Engineers also is working to stabilize the Guatajaca Dam in northeast Puerto Rico, White said. The dam was severely eroded by Hurricane Maria and repairs are urgently needed to guarantee drinking water to more than 230,000.

The department
will remain fully engaged in providing humanitarian assistance to fellow Americans in Puerto Rico until it has restored some semblance of normalcy to their lives, she said.

In addition to support to Puerto Rico, DOD is also helping the U.S. Virgin Islands and the islands of Dominica, Martinique and Guadaloupe — all affected by this intense hurricane season. n