WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2017 —
The Defense Department continues ongoing relief operations in Puerto Rico and is leaning forward to rapidly deploy additional response capacity, expanding airfield throughput and positioning key leaders forward in support of Federal Emergency Management Agency efforts to stabilize the situation and sustain life, Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said today.
DoD continues to support FEMA's immediate objectives to complete hospital assessments in Puerto Rico and establish an island-wide commodities distribution plan, Davis said.
The situation in the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to improve, he said, noting operations there are shifting from response to recovery.
Puerto Rico Situational Update
-- Assessments are complete at 47 of 69 hospitals, with many facilitated by DoD helicopter lift support.
-- Fuel and commodities distribution remains top priorities, with priority to hospitals. DoD delivered fuel to nine hospitals and supported establishment of over 100 points of distribution, including 12 Puerto Rico National Guard armories.
-- The Army Corps of Engineers is providing 900 super sand bags to shore up the Guajataca Dam spillway. The Civil Authority Information Support Element is supporting efforts by the territorial government to reach out to the 78 municipalities.
-- Eight airports are open, and one airport remains closed. Five of six FEMA-priority sea ports are open or open with restrictions, including, as of last night, the key port of Mayaguez (west side), daylight only, with a 28-foot draft restriction.
U.S. Virgin Islands Situational Update
-- Incident support bases are being established on St. Thomas and St. Croix to distribute commodities.
DoD Response Details: Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands
-- Army Brig. Gen. Richard C. Kim, the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army North, arrived in Puerto Rico yesterday to establish a forward headquarters. Kim is coordinating relief operations in Puerto Rico and will ascertain if additional assistance is required. Kim is working with Puerto Rico’s authorities and all components of the federal response effort.
-- U.S. Northern Command is deploying medical capabilities and ambulances. The USNS Comfort hospital ship is expected to depart Norfolk, Virginia, tomorrow and arrive in Puerto Rico in the middle of next week.
-- U.S. Transportation Command is transporting, via C-5C Galaxy cargo aircraft, a large generator to power the critical Combined/Center Radar Approach Control facility in Puerto Rico. This generator will enhance air traffic control capacity and help improve operations at San Juan and other airports.
-- The Army National Guard and the Marine Corps contingent continue to provide first responder movement, commodities and fuel distribution and route clearance capabilities. Marine helicopters are supporting movement of Department of Health and Human Services’ hospital assessment teams.
-- The Defense Logistics Agency's initial shipment of 100 trucks carrying diesel and gasoline fuel will arrive by barge to San Juan by Oct. 2. DLA is continuing meal distribution efforts and working future requirements to support up to 160 million meals for a 30-day period.
-- The Department of Homeland Security has issued a 10-day waiver of the Jones Act, allowing the shipment of relief supplies by foreign vessels, from the continental United States to Puerto Rico.
Foreign Disaster Assistance: Caribbean Region
-- U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Leeward Islands continues to support State Department humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the Leeward and Windward Islands, conducting search and rescue operations and evacuating U.S. citizens.
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Department of Defense website.