Kiowas, Sherpas Among Aircraft Helping With Rescue
More than 90 National Guard members in the US Virgin Islands and
Puerto Rico were on duty Thursday after Hurricane Omar passed
through their area as a major Category 3 storm that caused little
"Take this very seriously," Gov. John deJongh of the US Virgin
Islands said Wednesday after he activated his National Guard,
closed all public schools and imposed a 6:00 pm curfew for all
islands. The National Hurricane Center said the core of the storm
with the most intense winds passed between St. Martin and the US
Virgin Islands overnight.
The storm knocked down trees and caused some flooding and minor
mudslides, but there were no immediate reports of deaths or major
damage, Mark Walters, director of the US Virgin Islands disaster
management agency, told the Associated Press.
About 75 Guard members are providing communication support in
St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, and transportation support on
St. Croix with three Humvees and two 2.5-ton trucks. They also are
manning shelters in St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Aviation assets, including an OH-58
Kiowa helicopter and a C-23 Sherpa turboprop airplane, are flying
reconnaissance and damage assessment missions on the three
National Guard officials said St. Croix is without power, and
St. Thomas and St. John have no power on their north sides. All of
the islands are still being hit with heavy rain and strong winds.
Puerto Rico, which was brushed by the storm, has 12 Guard members
conducting command and control in the state's Joint Operations
Wednesday, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Puerto Rico
were used to move rescue and medical personnel to the islands of
Vieques and Culebra. One death was reported on Culebra. Authorities
say a man collapsed from cardiac arrest while trying to install
storm shutters to his house.
Four C-130 Hercules transports from the 156th Airlift Wing in
Puerto Rico were evacuated this week, with three going to MacDill
Air Force Base, FL and one going to Homestead Air Reserve Base, FL.
Three returned to the island Thursday, with the remaining aircraft
scheduled to return Friday.
Air National Guard officials are planning at least one mission
tomorrow to transport packaged meals from Puerto Rico to the US
The National Hurricane Center reported this morning that the
storm is moving toward the central Atlantic, away from the US East
(Aero-News thanks Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, who
serves at the National Guard Bureau.)