WASHINGTON – The Pentagon deployed forces Wednesday night along the East Coast and at sea to respond to Hurricane Florence's expected landfall in North Carolina.
Rescue personnel with helicopters and swift-water boats were staging to dash to people caught in floodwaters expected from Florence's deluges. Trucks capable of maneuvering through deep water also being dispatched throughout the southeast.
At sea, the amphibious ships USS Kearsarge and USS Arlington along with Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit were being positioned to provide aid from the sea if needed.
The Navy already has evacuated ships, submarines and aircraft from the world's largest naval installation at Hampton Roads, Virginia, said Rear Adm. Charles Rock, commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. Sailors and their families ashore were also ordered to head inland.
The ships fare better in rough seas than being battered at piers in port during storms, Rock said. Their commanders are setting course for portions of the Atlantic away from Florence's fury.
"Their focus is on going to somewhere they can avoid worst but remain close enough," Rock said.
Among the other Pentagon efforts planned to deal with the storm and its aftermath:
The Army and Air National Guard has activated more than 2,700 soldiers and airmen. The elements include helicopter search-and-rescue units, troops who distribute food and water and others who can clear storm debris.
The Defense Logistics Agency has sent 60 generators and transformers, 281,000 gallons of diesel fuel along with bottled water and food that doesn't require refrigeration.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is managing dams in the region to store as much stormwater runoff as possible.