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Operations slowly resuming on hurricane-affected military bases

A South Carolina National Guard’s CH-47F Chinook, heavy-lift, helicopter assigned to Detachment 1, Company B, 2-238th General Support Aviation Battalion, 59th Aviation Troop Command, lands at the Whale Branch Early College High School and delivers water and food supplies to the community of Seabrook in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 9, 2016, Beaufort County, S.C. Over 2,000 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been activated since Oct. 4, 2016. Their primary mission is supporting state and county emergency management agencies and local first responders with coastal evacuations and any services or resources needed to assist the citizens of South Carolina after Governor Nikki Haley declared a State of Emergency. Hurricane Matthew peaked as a Category 4 hurricane in the Caribbean and hit the S.C. coast on Oct. 7, 2016.

ROBERTO DI GIOVINE/U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO

By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 10, 2016

U.S. military installations in the path of Hurricane Matthew were resuming some operations Monday as personnel began returning to base in some areas, but power outages and storm damage were hampering return to full operations.

At Joint Base Charleston, S.C., a limited evacuation order was revoked, according to a Facebook post Monday. All personnel were to return to the base by Monday night, but recovery efforts were expected to take several days as officials continued to assess damage.

“Expect to see downed trees, power outages, road closures, lots of debris, and some minor damage to buildings,” the post said. “Please bring food and water with you in case power outages are not resolved.”

At Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., non-essential Defense Department personnel were asked not to return until conditions are deemed safe and utilities necessary to sustain adequate living conditions repaired, the command’s website said. It advised those planning to attend this week’s graduation to postpone travel and instructed those who had expected to begin recruit training Monday to contact their recruiters for information and changes.

The 6,000 recruits who were evacuated for their safety have been continuing their training at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., according to posts on the recruit depot’s Facebook page. They’ll be returned to Parris Island when travel is deemed safe and proper training could be conducted.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, in Jacksonville, N.C., were still dealing with power outages Monday, though a majority of the “main-side” of Camp Lejeune has had power restored, said Nat Fahy, spokesperson for both bases. New River was still completely without power, but the base was “cautiously optimistic” power would be restored by noon Monday.

“Little by little the base is emerging from this hurricane and getting back to normal, with a few exceptions,” Fahy said.

Some residents in Goldsboro, N.C. — where Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is located — were asked to evacuate their homes due to an expected crest of the Neuse River, according to a post on the base’s Facebook page early Monday. The river was expected to continue rising Monday. Wayne County Public schools were to be closed the rest of the week due to the rising water.

Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., located just south of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, suffered roof and water damage at the base’s medical clinic, 45th Space Wing commander Brig. Gen. Wayne R. Monteith said in a post on the base’s Facebook page.

“We have a contract team already laying a temp roof and about 75 Medical Sharks are working hard reconfiguring the clinic spaces to be able to support patients soon,” the post said. “Hang with us as we get closer to being able to open the base again!”

But the wing was back in business, and the base was expected to be back to normal operations early this week, according to a separate Facebook post.

The Defense Department reported Sunday that all Army bases were open and operational.

An evacuation order for personnel at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia ended Monday morning, according to a memorandum posted to the base’s Facebook page. Personnel were asked to inform their chain of command if their residences were uninhabitable due to storm damage.

Fort Bragg, located near Fayetteville, N.C., was expected to be operating on a normal basis Tuesday, according to the base Facebook page, and all commissaries and Exchanges were open and operating on a holiday schedule Monday. “The food court at the South Exchange, including Starbucks, is closed due to weather-related damage.”

Meanwhile, in Haiti, which was devastated by the hurricane, Joint Task Force Matthew has delivered 50,000 pounds of aid and supplies, the Defense Department said.

U.S. Southern Command has approximately 300 personnel on the ground and 700 sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde. The USS Iwo Jima is to relieve the Mesa Verde later this week.

Email: church.chris@stripes.com
Twitter: @CChurchStripes

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Tressel, radio frequency transmission technician with the 628th Communications Squadron, inspects a ultra high frequency (UHF) antenna for wind damage caused by Hurricane Matthew on Joint Base Charleston, S.C., Oct. 10, 2016. Joint Base personnel are working diligently to return the Joint Base to full operational status after disaster response coordinators assessed damage and verified a safe operating environment.
SEAN CARNES/U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO

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