WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2010 — As Tropical Storm Tomas bears down on Haiti and other islands in the Caribbean, U.S. forces are leaning forward to help, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
Thousands of Haitians still are living in tent cities following the devastating earthquake that hit the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in January. In the last month, a cholera outbreak affected thousands in the region.
Now, Haiti is bracing for a tropical storm expected to bring high winds and rain. “We are again positioned to respond quickly,” Morrell said during a Pentagon news conference.
The USS Iwo Jima is steaming toward the island nation with a crew of 1,600 aboard. U.S. Southern Command is directing any aid that may be required. The crew can provide medical, engineering, aviation, logistical and other help as needed.
The ship has a team of civilian and military medical personnel aboard who will aid as needed after the storm passes and work to alleviate the effects of the cholera outbreak, DOD officials said.
The U.S. Agency for International Development has pre-positioned commodities in Haiti – including 40,000 blankets, 16,290 hygiene kits, 32,270 water containers and 20,000 kitchen sets – some of which are being distributed for the cholera outbreak. Haitian officials will be able to use the supplies to meet post-storm needs, Pentagon officials said.
U.S. officials are also taking precautions at the Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officials expect the storm to begin affecting the base Nov. 6 or 7, Navy officials at the base said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)