A huge airborne relief mission is headed to the Florida Keys, ready to assist Floridians impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.
According to reports, United States Air Force special operations pilots are testing C-130 cargo plane fligts around the massive storm, from Mississippi to the Keys, in anticipation of the mission.
The mission will also include Air National Guard flights of more C-130s, and helicopters following the fixed-wing flights.
Some of the services headed to the Keys are “disaster mortuary teams,” according to Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt, who reported on the mission during a conference call reported by the Miami Herald.
As Irma ravaged the Lower Florida Keys on Sunday morning, Senterfitt said the the Category 4 storm’s destruction was a “humanitarian crisis.”
“The help is on its way,” Senterfitt said during Sunday afternoon’s call. “We’re going to get more aid than we’ve ever seen in our lives.”
Senterfitt says supplies and personnel could be in Monroe County by early Monday morning, with the first arrival at Florida Keys Marathon Airport. The site can handle approximately two C-130 planes at a time, and can accommodate two every two hours on the airfield.
The storm knocked out power for an estimated 2 million people in Florida.
The outage is “Keys-wide, according to reports. It’s also caused damage to some of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority’s transmission lines, impacting the flow of fresh water to the island chain.
The Middle and Upper Keys have sustained severe damages and flooding, while the eye of the hurricane passed over the Lower Keys around daybreak Sunday and caused heavy destruction.
People who stayed in the Keys, despite repeated pleas from officials to evacuate, will need help, according to authorities.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) warned people in Florida that Hurricane Irma would be a “killer” storm, with a far-reaching impact on the state. On Saturday, he said anyone in an evacuation zone should leave.
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