Puerto Rico, U.S.Virgin Islands members prepare for Irma missions; Florida braces
Thursday, September 7, 2017
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Photo Caption:
Hurricane forecast track issued by the National Hurricane Center.

By Lt. Col. Andrew Oppmann, Southeast Region Public Affairs
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico--
Civil Air Patrol members in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands worked today to re-establish stable communications and plan aerial missions after Hurricane Irma barreled past the islands and headed for Florida.

Col. Barry Melton, Southeast Region commander, said Puerto Rico operations were relocated from San Juan to Aguadilla on the commonwealth’s northwestern tip, the most distant point from the storm’s impact, before Wednesday's landfall.

Melton noted, however, communications between the mainland and units in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remained a challenge Thursday night.

Melton said he anticipates the wing’s Cessna planes, secured at Muniz Air National Guard Base in San Juan, will be deployed for missions tasked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and 1st Air Force as soon as aircrews can be safety deployed.

"Southeast Region members are rolling up their sleeves to aid in the recovery efforts that will be needed for some time to come," said Melton, whose command includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

He said high-frequency radio contact has been restored with CAP units in the U.S. Virgin Islands. CAP’s squadron in St. Croix was working to erect a directional antenna to enhance communications with colleagues in Puerto Rico, Melton said.

The Florida Wing spent today in preparations for Irma’s anticipated arrival early Sunday on the state’s eastern side. Forecasters warn Irma could be worst hurricane to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Col. Luis Garcia, Florida Wing commander, said his wing was relocating planes and flight crews to the state’s Panhandle region for future deployment after the hurricane makes landfall. Garcia said he has received offers of support from CAP operations in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Illinois.

“We are meeting nightly with all stakeholders to synchronize efforts across the wing and ensure continuity with adjoining wings,” he said, urging his volunteers to stay “safe and vigilant.”
Article Information
Reviewed by: Lt Col Judy Steele
Syndicated to: Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing
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Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.
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