Land, Sea and Air: Local, Federal First Responders Deploy to Help U.S. Virgin Islands

WASHINGTON — First responders from Fairfax County, Virginia, are joining federal resources in the U.S. Virgin Islands helping with hurricane recovery from the land, air and sea.

From the land

“The mission is to conduct urban search and rescue missions on the U.S. Virgin Islands that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma,” Assistant Fairfax County Fire Chief Chuck Ryan said of FEMA’s Virginia Task Force 1.

The 80-member team that was activated Friday at about 1 p.m. includes K-9’s and their handlers, Fire Chief Richard Bowers said.

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Virginia Task Force 1 members work with airmen from Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to finalize pallet loads of supplies for potential air transport to the Virgin Islands assignment. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)\n","ampmedia":"\n\n\t\t","alt":""},{"type":"photo","media":"


More than a dozen of the 80 team members of Virginia Task Force 1 deployed to the Virgin Islands also responded to Hurricane Harvey operations in Texas. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)\n","ampmedia":"\n\n\t\t","alt":""},{"type":"ad","media":"

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From the air

The USS Wasp, along with U.S. Transportation Command, is using helicopters to evacuate patients, as witnessed by a resident of Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas.

“I saw a helicopter come over my house and hover over a house just below me (down the hill). They lowered a guy down on a cable and then, a few minutes later, they came and picked him up, and he came up with some other person. That was some kind of rescue,” Jim Tunick told WTOP.

As of Friday, 21 people had been evacuated during six missions, according to a Department of Defense spokesman. Evacuations of another 23 people were planned for late Friday afternoon.

Also arriving to the area Friday and staging north of St. Croix to help the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico: the USS Kearsarge and the USS Oak Hill.

“They have rotary-wing helicopters for search and rescues and to transport personnel,” said Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis.

Pallets of supplies, additional crew members and medical personnel to help with emergency response are being taken to the Virgin Islands by Air Force C-17s.

From the sea

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to conduct port surveys and dredging missions to reopen ports,” according to the Department of Defense website.

To be prepared in case resources are needed for response related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma or Jose, the Defense Logistics Agency has stocked all sorts of supplies at Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia. They include generators, fuel, food, water and other items for potential use by first responders or survivors.

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