The Department of Defense continues to deploy more response capacity to Puerto Rico to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's need for a commodities distribution network able to reach isolated communities and sustained medical support for the island's residents, said Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis Oct. 2.
Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commanding general of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, is in command of DOD's Hurricane Maria response and relief efforts in Puerto Rico, and leading the department's efforts to establish aerial and seaport nodes of debarkation throughout Puerto Rico so that FEMA, with DOD support, can flow resources throughout the commonwealth, Davis said. Buchanan is being assisted by his deputy, Army Brig. Gen. Richard C. Kim.
Buchanan led a DOD assessment and has the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command integrated with FEMA in development of an area-wide concept of operations focused on sustainment and commodities distribution. Facilities are being established throughout Puerto Rico for aerial and seaport nodes of debarkation to flow resources throughout the island.
DOD is also supporting the establishment of a medical support plan to best position medical support assets as they arrive in Puerto Rico, the spokesman said.
Army Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is in Puerto Rico overseeing temporary power installation, electrical distribution repairs, infrastructure improvements and Guajataca Dam reinforcement, Davis said.
Sixteen helicopters from Fort Bliss, Texas, deployed to Puerto Rico Oct. 2-3 on a C-5 Galaxy aircraft strategic lift mission, the spokesman said.
The Navy's amphibious assault ship USS Wasp and additional Marine Corps rotary wing aircraft are also supporting operations in Puerto Rico, Davis said. The Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, arrived in San Juan Oct. 4.
FEMA reports assessments of 64 of 69 hospitals complete; 59 are partially or fully operational. Forty-nine percent of grocery and big box stores are open. Eleven percent of Puerto Rico has cell service.