National Guard Steps Up in Caribbean

National Guard Steps Up in Caribbean

Photo by: Navy Research Lab

National Guard soldiers who were in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico helping civil authorities and residents recover from the wreckage left behind by Hurricane Irma are now helping the same people cope with the fresh layer of destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria—the second powerful storm to strike the U.S. territories in as many weeks.

Some 3,500 soldiers from 18 states are among responders to the latest meteorological onslaught, some in Florida working in support of recovery operations and others in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. More personnel are prepared to respond and will help for as long as needed, according to the National Guard Bureau.

In the Virgin Islands, the National Guard is providing security, clearing roadways, supporting traffic control, and distributing food and water. Members of the Puerto Rico National Guard were sheltered in place during the hurricane and positioned to respond following the storm. With Puerto Rico’s power grid destroyed, coastal areas flooded and mountain roads impassable, many areas have been isolated. Efforts are underway to restore communications with the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The National Guard has taken the lead in post-hurricane recovery since Hurricane Harvey barreled into Texas in late August. At the height of operations in mid-September—before Hurricane Maria—more than 15,000 personnel from more than 40 states were on duty.