Maxwell AFB, Ala. -
As Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida, Southeast Region commanders focused Friday on readiness for disaster relief response once the massive storm again makes landfall.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, slammed by Irma on Wednesday, six volunteers from mainland CAP units were deployed Friday to provide support for the wing's aerial assessments and photography missions for federal relief agencies.
Irma, now a Category 4 hurricane, is expected to reach Florida early Sunday, then travel north toward Georgia and on to Tennessee before losing strength. The storm is expected to cover all of Florida as it moves further inland.
“Our members are taking all necessary measures to protect their families and personal property, so they will be able to respond to the situation when called upon to do so,” said Col. Barry Melton, Southeast Region commander.
The Florida Wing’s commander, Col. Luis Garcia, said Friday afternoon his units were at HURCON 3 status, which calls for CAP facilities and assets to be secured for the storm no less than 24 hours before landfall.
Garcia also directed a review of the wing’s mutual aid and support agreements and said pilots, other members and equipment should be identified and deployed for relief missions as soon as it’s safe.
“All of our aircraft has been evacuated to the Florida Panhandle,” Garcia said. “All members are reporting they are prepared or are conducting final preparations.”
Irma packed a wallop to infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as it traveled through the Caribbean.
Melton said CAP has restored communications with its Caribbean units but is limited by the availability of electricity.
On Friday, the Georgia Wing was getting ready for Irma after it passes out of the Florida Peninsula. If projections hold, the storm will take a path through the middle of Georgia toward Atlanta.
Col. Andrea Van Buren, Georgia Wing commander, said her Irma team has developed three plans for relief deployment, with possible mission base locations selected for CAP planes depending on landfall scenarios.
“Depending upon projections, one of those game plans will be executed and assets staged,” Van Buren said.
“Then, we batten the hatches until it’s safe and we are called to serve.”