Hurricane Irma Military responses are ratcheting up as the monster storm approaches Florida. When she shifted slightly West on Thursday, it pretty much guaranteed that Florida was going to take a direct hit.
The Florida Governor has prepared to mobilize 8,000 Florida National Guard members.
NORTHCOM stated that the USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill were on their way to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for disaster
response. Helicopters have already been evacuating the critically injured.
The two ships had been deployed to Texas for relief efforts there, but were recalled to head to the Caribbean in response to Irma. There are approximately 700 US Marines aboard the Kearsarge.
“Wasp’s helicopters are conducting medical evacuations for critical care patients from St. Thomas to St. Croix and conducting damage assessment in support of the local government.” NORTHCOM statement
With this hurricane, anything can happen
“This storm — it’s still game on. The record [Irma] has set is the strongest hurricane to have ever formed in that part of the Atlantic, and also another record for this strong of a [weather] system being this strong for this many days.” Maj. Jonathan Brady an aerial reconnaissance weather officer with the “Hurricane Hunters” squadron.
The military is both pre-positioning its assets and moving some of them out of the way.
Eleven KC-135 Stratotankers from the 6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing will evacuate from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and 13 F-15 Eagles will evacuate from Jacksonville International Airport, Florida. The Air Force did not immediately give a destination for those aircraft.
The US Coast Guard, the Florida National Guard, US Air Force, US Marines…all are working hard to prepare for a potential catastrophic hurricane event in Florida this weekend.