JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (KINY) Alaska Army National Guard members are deploying to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, in order to provide operational and sustainment support in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott bid farewell to a few of the Guardsmen Wednesday afternoon at Ted Stevens International Airport. More than 50 Soldiers assigned to the 297th Forward Support Company will travel in teams to the U.S. Virgin Islands with small contingents departing sporadically over the next three days.
Once the Alaska Army National Guard Soldiers touch ground, operating as a forward logistics element, the Guardsmen expect to collaborate with the Virgin Islands National Guard, National Guard units from other states and federal personnel in an effort to provide logistical relief and to help rebuild the island’s infrastructure.
St. Croix is the largest island within the U.S. Virgin Islands chain and is home to more than 50,000 people. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, category five hurricanes with winds that reached up to 175 miles per hour, both struck St. Croix within 14 days of each other in September. Nearly one-month since the storms, St. Croix’s power grid availability remains at 12 percent with collapsed infrastructure throughout the island.
The Alaska Army National Guard will continue to synchronize efforts with the Virgin Islands National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency and are expected to turn their mission back to the VING by mid-November.
In the last two months, the Alaska National Guard Airmen and Soldiers have deployed to support Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, after Hurricanes Irma and Maria; Florida, after Hurricane Irma; and to Texas, during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.