Colorado's US Northern Command aids in Irma relief

Colorado's US Northern Command aids in Irma relief

Colorado's US Northern Command aids in Irma relief

Despite its downgrade to a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said Friday that the storm remained "extremely dangerous" with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and was expected to hit the Florida mainland early Sunday as a "major" and "life-threatening" hurricane.

At least 20 people were killed in the Caribbean.

The US military was mobilizing thousands of troops and deploying several large ships Friday to aid with evacuations and humanitarian relief from Hurricane Irma, as the Air Force removed scores of planes from the region.

Additionally, the USS Iwo Jima and USS New York are preparing to provide support, while the USS Wasp - an amphibious assault ship bedecked with helicopters - is conducting patient evacuation operations in the US Virgin Islands.

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The amphibious assault ships USS Wasp and USS Kearsarge along with the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill and the Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are already in the Caribbean assisting relief efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Marines unload MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge in the Atlantic Ocean.

Those ships will be joined by the Norfolk-based USS San Jacinto.

Also preparing to leave Norfolk was the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Brian Wierzbicki, a spokesman for Navy's Fleet Forces Command.

Florida air travel starts to shut down ahead of Irma
He agreed that some fares were high. "We've added additional flights out of Florida, but those flights are mostly sold out". Delta said Thursday it will cap fares in all cabins at $399 for flights to and from South Florida through September 13.

Iwo Jima and NY pulled into Norfolk Sept. 7 after leaving their Mayport, Florida, homeport to embark a component of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a detachment from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, as well as members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22 and Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8.

As the storm continued toward the US mainland, military officials at installations from Key West, Florida north into SC chose to evacuate their servicemembers.

Northern Command is prepositioned with nearly 4,500 personnel in the southeast to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida state authorities.

As Irma roared towards the mainland United States, the Air Force evacuated dozens of warplanes based in the South, including 50 F-16s from the Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

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- The Defense Logistics Agency will support distribution of over 12 million meals over the next 10 days. More than 17,000 servicemembers participated in the response to Harvey and some 3,000 National Guard members were still on duty in Texas on Friday, according to a Pentagon statement.

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