MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and their crews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, were forward-deployed to Andros Island in the Bahamas in anticipation of medical evacuations, search-and-rescue operations and humanitarian aid, according to Coast Guard officials.
Coast Guard 7th District Commander Rear Adm. Eric Jones told CNN Tuesday that the service expects to evacuate some residents on Tuesday and will begin delivering needed supplies to the storm-ravaged islands.
The service is supporting the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency and the Royal Bahamian Defense Force and will be working with the U.S. Agency for International Development to deliver aid, Jones said.
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The winds and high waves have reached the continental United States, with hurricane warnings extending from West Palm Beach, Florida, to south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and storm watches as far north as Duck, North Carolina, on the state’s Outer Banks.
The Coast Guard has set port conditions restricting movement of vessels in major ports, shutting down operations from Miami to Jacksonville, Florida, and limiting movement from Savannah, Georgia, to Portsmouth, Virginia.
Meanwhile, the service is securing assets throughout the southern U.S. to prepare for any response. Boats from Coast Guard Stations Mayport, Port Canaveral and Ponce De Leon Inlet in Florida were relocated to a safe haven to ensure that they’d be ready to engage in rescue operations and to reopen affected ports following the storm.
Coast Guard personnel took part in the rescue Sunday of a person knocked into the water near Sebastian Inlet, just north of Vero Beach, Florida. Coast Guard Station Fort Pierce and Coast Guard Air Station Miami launched a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to locate a reported three people in the water.
The Coast Guard is asking that people stay off the water and beaches; secure their belongings in advance of the storm, to include moving boats inland or securing them on land; pay attention to weather updates and warnings; and call 911 in an emergency.
“Social media should not be used to report life-threatening distress due to limited resources to monitor the dozens of social media platforms during a hurricane or large-scale rescue event,” Coast Guard officials noted.
This story has been updated to reflect updated rescue numbers.
— Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.
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