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Posted: September 21, 2017 2:58 p.m.
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Installation, community recovers from Irma

Steve Hart/

Gen. Robert B. Abrams, Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command, talks to Soldiers of 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Sept. 15, 2017 during his visit to Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart, Ga. following Hurricane Irma. During his visit, he recognized individuals who maintained operations during the storm, viewed damages to the area and observed how the Task Force Marne and Garrison teams continued the mission.

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Gen. Robert Abrams, Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command, visited Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Sept. 15, following Hurricane Irma; to view the damage and thank community members who helped maintain operations during and after the storm. 

"We had great confidence that we had the right leadership here,” Abrams said when he visited the Fort Stewart Crisis Management Center on Stewart.  “And the right team to take care of our Soldiers and Families,” he added, expressing the belief the higher headquarters shared in the team’ ability here to make the right calls, and protect Soldiers, Families and the installation.

As hurricane Irma approached the area the state of Georgia, local communities and the installation made the decision to take action in high risk areas.  

The installation's Senior Commander, Col. Sean Beranabe, executed an evacuation of Stewart and Hunter on Sept. 7; which called for Soldiers, Department of Defense Civilians and their Families assigned to, working at or living on the installation, or in areas of mandatory evacuations – to find safe havens located within a 500 mile radius.  The state of Georgia and local counties also called for mandatory evacuations – including Liberty, Bryan, and Chatham Counties.

More than 34,000 Soldiers, Civilians and Family members were able to evacuate to areas as near as Fort Gordon and Fort Benning, and as far as Tennessee and Alabama. 

In addition, the installation staffed a crisis management center, prepositioned resources, and identified personnel to help with recovery efforts. 

The Army also prepared to assist locally and in the Caribbean.  As of 5 p.m. Sept. 12; the Army active duty and reserve; along with the National Guard were prepared to support recovery with 17,600 Soldiers and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers civilians in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the continental United States – according to the US Army Office of Public Affairs.  The Army had 38 aircraft, more than 740 trucks, and more than 80 generators already committed to relief efforts.  The Army had more than 100 aircraft and nearly 600 generators, 150 boats, and more than 3,200 trucks on standby.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had three Divisions and six Districts activated to support federal response operations, with more than 400 deployed at key response nodes and 158 personnel manning key communication nodes.

On Hunter Army Airfield, according to Coast Guard Lieutenant Andrew Moravec at Air Station Savannah, the station was set to be an integral part of Coast Guard response to Irma, along with Aviation Training Center Mobile, AL. The station surged operational assets to the units prior to storm arrival to establish a two-pronged approach to the affected areas. Their assets increased from five aircraft to 15; to include 11 MH-65D helicopters and four MH-60T helicopters. With the help Hunter Army Airfield, all aircrew were ready at a moment’s noticed to respond once the weather was within limits. They would later launch all transient aircraft to Miami, FL. and the surrounding areas.

The impact of Hurricane Irma, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, www.gema.ga.gov, affected most of the state; including power loss in about 1.5 million homes; the closing of more than 159 county roads and Georgia ports; the closing of at least 27 school system and hundreds of down trees and power lines.  

On Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield recovery efforts began soon after threatening winds died down. 

But community members are encouraged to remain ready and vigilant, as the National Hurricane Center, www.nhc.noaa.gov, continues to track active storms in the Atlantic. Learn more about having Hurricane Preparedness kits at http://www.stewart.army.mil/info/?id=396&p=2.  To learn about property claims from Hurricane Irma, visit http://www.stewart.army.mil/info/?id=412&p=4.


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