USA — Defense Department Prepares for Hurricane Earl Response

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2010 — The Defense Depart­ment is ready to respond should Hur­ri­cane Earl’s pro­ject­ed land­fall this week­end bring dis­as­ter to the Atlantic coast, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Ditchey said today.

Today, hur­ri­cane warn­ings were issued for North Car­oli­na, and a hur­ri­cane watch was issued in Vir­ginia. North Carolina’s divi­sion of emer­gency man­age­ment issued manda­to­ry evac­u­a­tions in some areas in the Out­er Banks. Vir­ginia Gov. Bob McDon­nell declared a state of emer­gency for his state.

“The Depart­ment of Defense is mon­i­tor­ing Hur­ri­cane Earl, work­ing close­ly with the [Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency], and is pre­pared to respond if need­ed,” Ditchey said.

FEMA’s Region I defense coor­di­nat­ing offi­cer also has been acti­vat­ed. The 403rd Wing from Kessler Air Force Base, Miss., known as the “Hur­ri­cane Hunters,” has con­duct­ed five flights in the past 24 hours, pro­vid­ing aer­i­al sur­veil­lance along the coast.

Also, North Car­oli­na and Vir­ginia Nation­al Guard have placed more than 250 guards­men on state active duty to begin response prepa­ra­tions, he said.

“The Nation­al Guard is pre­pared, poised and ready to sup­port the civil­ian agen­cies if request­ed,” Ditchey said.

FEMA is urg­ing peo­ple in Earl’s path to take evac­u­a­tion and safe­ty guid­ance from local author­i­ties. Fam­i­lies in the region should have evac­u­a­tion plans in place.

Mean­while, mil­i­tary instal­la­tions in the pro­ject­ed impact areas are also tak­ing pre­cau­tions to ensure safe­ty for peo­ple and equip­ment. Air Force air­craft and Navy ves­sels are pre­pared to evade Hur­ri­cane Earl, if need­ed. Deci­sions to move Navy ships and Air Force air­craft away from the storm’s path will be made in the next two days, Ditchey said.

So far, state offi­cials and civil­ian author­i­ties have not request­ed mil­i­tary sup­port.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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