Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pentagon mobilizing relief efforts

Ships, aircraft, more than 125,000 troops head to Gulf Coast
The Pentagon was mobilizing troops and resources Tuesday as part of a massive relief effort in the Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
A National Guard spokesman said more than 125,000 troops had been activated in 19 states and Washington, D.C., to help local agencies with traffic control, security, distributing food, and search and rescue.
The Navy said the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan was off the Louisiana coast and that its helicopters were already flying relief missions.
The ship, which resembles a small aircraft carrier, can produce large quantities of fresh water and is equipped with 600 hospital beds.
Several other ships, including a rescue and salvage vessel and the USS Iwo Jima, another amphibious ship, were on their way from Norfolk, Virginia, the Navy said.
The USNS Comfort, a floating hospital based in Baltimore, Maryland, will depart in coming days. A medical crew from Bethesda Naval Hospital will staff the ship. It has full hospital capabilities, including operating rooms and hundreds of beds.The Air Force said it was sending two large cargo planes to the region -- a C-5 Galaxy to Louisiana and a C-17 to Mississippi.
Besides humanitarian aid, the C-5 is bringing in swift boats, which can maneuver in shallow floodwaters to ferry rescue workers and victims. The C-17 is outfitted to evacuate 36 sick and injured people at a time....


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