Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Guantanamo Bay Families Evacuate to Naval Air Station Pensacola ahead of Hurricane Matthew

Naval Station Guantanamo Bay braced for the impact of Hurricane Matthew but the Hurricane ploughed through Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, making landfall near Haiti, around 7 am ET.  
This Category 4 storm is the strongest in the Caribbean in nearly a decade. The hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, has brought “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.” Rainfall of up to 25 inches -- with isolated areas of 40 inches, according to the National Hurricane Center.

U.S. military cargo planes began evacuating about 700 spouses and children of troops and other staff from Guantanamo Bay to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla on Sunday in preparation of the hurricane.

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The base best known for its war-on-terror prison — now holding 61 detainees, staffed by about 2,000 temporary troops and contractors — also has sailors, families and contractors permanently living there. About 6,000 people live there, including about 250 school-age children with their Navy families and 2,000 Jamaican and Filipino contract laborers.
According to In Cuba Today. the Guantánamo base spokeswoman, Julie Ripley, announced on Sunday “mandatory evacuation” of “all non-essential personnel” in a statement earlier Saturday. This means that the military will pick up the cost of flights and lodging of the family members in Pensacola, as well as provide an allowance for food. “This includes dependents, school-aged children, special needs families, and their pets.”
In addition, she said, Coast Guard personnel were being evacuated to Miami, and the Navy’s small C-12 aircraft were being flown from the base to shelter in Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, the base’s Navy headquarters stated that Naval Air Station Pensacola “has quarters to house the families” from Guantánamo Bay and counselors “to provide assistance.” At Guantánamo, it said “the remaining military and civilian personnel will shelter in place and be able to support recovery efforts once safe to do so following the storm’s passage.”
How can you help?

The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States.  In addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers services in four other areas: communications services and comfort for military members and their family members; the collection, processing and distribution of blood and blood products; educational programs on preparedness, health, and safety; and international relief and development programs. For more information, go to http://www.redcross.org/

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