US Southern Command stages 100 troops in Caribbean for hurricane relief
October 4, 2016
SAN ANTONIO — About 100 troops and nine helicopters will be staged and ready to assist in disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, U.S. Southern Command said Tuesday.
The troops, representing all branches, were directed to Grand Cayman Island and are ready to help areas impacted by the storm barreling across the region, said Army Col. Lisa Garcia, a Southern Command spokeswoman.
The U.S. Agency for International Development will determine whether the troops will provide disaster relief, and where. Southern Command is in communication with U.S. embassies in the region to determine whether help is needed, Garcia said.
Staged troops are prepared for the mission of distributing aid such as food, water and medicine, which is vital in the early stages of disaster relief operations, Garcia said. They could also help transporting government personnel.
Nine helicopters were dispatched to the staging area at Grand Cayman Island, a release stated. Two Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallions and seven Army helicopters — a mixture of CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60L Blackhawks — will be the workhorses if they are tasked with a response.
Half of the troops on the team — approximately 50 Marines and a few sailors — are staged and awaiting clearance to enter Haiti, said Marine Corps Capt. Tyler Hopkins, a spokesman for the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force assigned to Honduras.
The hurricane made landfall on the impoverished nation of Haiti on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The hurricane is the strongest in the region in a decade and has left at least seven dead, so far, the report said.
The troops are based at the Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras. Part of their mission is to respond to natural disasters in the region, the release stated.
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