U.S. Military Prepares to Aid Haiti as Tomas Approaches

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)

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