The US Navy is sending a flotilla of ships to help the relief effort in the Haiti, devestated by Hurricane Matthew, the first Category 4 storm to hit the island nation in over 50 years. USS Mesa Verde, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, is steaming toward Haiti. The ship is carrying three heavy-lift helicopters, a landing craft, bulldozers, fresh-water delivery vehicles and two surgical operating rooms.
Reuters reports that Matthew rampaged through Haiti’s western peninsula on Tuesday with 145 mph (233 kph) winds and torrential rain. Some 61,500 people were in shelters, officials said, after the storm hurled the sea into fragile coastal villages, some of which were only now being contacted. Close to 900 Haitians have been reported to have been killed by the storm and tens of thousands have been driven from their homes.
The US relief effort began before the storm arrived on Tuesday, as the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) prepositioned aid supplies on the island before the storm hit.
As reported by USNI News, “About 100 Marines and soldiers arrived in Haiti Wednesday night with two Marine CH-53E Super Stallions, four Army UH-60 Black Hawks and three Army CH-47 Chinooks, U.S. Marine Corps Forces South spokesman Maj. Armando Daviu told USNI News. The Marines are part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP MAGTF) Southern Command, and the soldiers are from the Joint Task Force-Bravo, both headquartered at at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.
More than 420 Marines on two Navy ships are preparing to head to the Caribbean if called upon to respond to Hurricane Matthew, and a portion of the Marine Corps unit working in Central America is already in Haiti.”