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Posted: September 28, 2017 12:50 p.m.
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Hurricane relief departs Hunter

Steve Hart/

Sgt. Alfonso Lange of the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, speaks with members of the local news media on Hunter Army Airfield on Sept. 26th before boarding a C-17 bound for Puerto Rico where he and his unit will provide disaster relief to the victims of Hurricane Maria.

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Twenty Soldiers from Fort Stewart’s 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion deployed with their tactical vehicles and equipment on board two C-17 Globemaster aircraft from Hunter Army Airfield Sept. 26 for Fort Buchanan in San Juan, Puerto Rico where they will assist with the response efforts following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria.

The 63rd ESB is a tenant unit based on Hunter and is part of the 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade located on Fort Gordon.

The U.S. Army, including Active Duty, U.S. Army Reserve, and Army National Guard, remains involved in, or prepared to support State, Territory, or other Federal Agencies such as FEMA, as part of Hurricane Maria relief operations. The top priority of the federal government is protecting the lives and safety of those in areas affected by Hurricane Maria. Army equipment and personnel remain in the affected areas and are posturing to ensure additional resources are readily available to support recovery efforts, if needed.

When disaster strikes getting food and medical aid to victims is the number one priority but communications play an extremely important role as well. More often than not the electricity and in turn telephone and data infrastructures are severely are rendered unserviceable, making communication impossible. As we see with Hurricane Harvey and lessons from Hurricane Irma of requiring the capabilities on the ground to give us real-time, accurate assessments of the physical condition of the city.”

This ‘accurate assessment’ of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, or indeed of any natural disaster, can only be achieved through the provision of real-time communications. And this is where satellite communications play a vital role. In areas where there is no power, infrastructure or public amenities, satellite communications can provide that all-important lifeline to the outside world.

Fort Buchannan will provide reception and administrative services to military personnel deploying to Puerto Rico.

“We train hard for this type of mission; this is what we do,” said Lt. Col. Indira Donegan, commander, 63rd ESB.  “We will provide communications support for FEMA’s command and control of recovery operations.”

“It’s sad to see your country destroyed like this,” said Sgt. Alfonso Lange, a cable systems installer-maintainer with the 63rd ESB, who was also born and raised in Puerto Rico.  “Puerto Ricans have deployed to Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan for our country.  Now we need the (U.S. Army’s) support.”

 

An element of the 36th ESB deployed to the Houston, are in August to provide disaster assistance following Hurricane Harvey’s destruction after making landfall.


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