WASHINGTON, D.C. (sentinel.ht) – About 200 Marines, sailors and nine helicopters were deployed to Haiti where they will begin delivering relief supplies to areas destroyed by Hurricane Matthew according to Col. Thomas Prentice, head of the Marine Corps’ Central America task force, said on Friday.
“The scope of the devastation is tragic,” Prentice told Marine Corps Times. “Flying over the affected areas, there are tens of thousands of families that have been affected. It’s truly a tragic situation.”
Prentice is commander of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command, which began arriving in Haiti from Honduras on Wednesday.
“The special purpose MAGTF was specifically manned, trained and equipped to be able to respond and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to situations just like we’re seeing right now in Haiti, Prentice said.
Working with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Marines expect to begin delivering plastic sheeting, food, hygiene kits, blankets and generators to Haitians on Friday, he said.
“Our ability is to respond rapidly, and that’s exactly what we did in this case,” Prentice said. “Our goal is to get in there and focus on our integration with OFDA and the embassy staff and simply provide as much help as we can.”
By the end of the day, the task force in Haiti is expected to have about 150 service members on the ground and a total of nine helicopters: Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallions along with Army CH-47 Chinooks and HH-60 Pave Hawks from 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment.