Military bases across the East Coast are conducting damage assessments and clean up in the wake of Hurricane Ian, which first struck Florida on Wednesday and made another landfall Friday in South Carolina.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Ian’s center came ashore Friday afternoon near Georgetown, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Ian originally hit Florida’s Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 mph. Nearly 2.7 million people have been left without power.
Naval Station Mayport in Florida announced Friday that it was conducting damage assessment throughout the base, and shared a video depicting debris and fallen trees scattered throughout the installation. Base officials confirmed Friday that although only essential personnel were provided base access, the Navy Exchange and gas station were back to normal operation.
Those who evacuated from Florida’s MacDill Air Force Base are now permitted to return, although the installation issued a warning about debris and pooled water in the area.
In South Carolina, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island braced for inclement weather as the storm moved north. Depot officials announced Friday that outdoor training was paused until conditions settled.
“At this time, the depot is experiencing rain and wind from the storm,” Parris Island officials wrote in a Facebook post. “After the storm has passed, Emergency Management Services and leadership from the depot’s G-4 will conduct destructive weather assessments of the base to ensure training can be resumed. We anticipate to resume normal training schedules tomorrow if it is appropriate to do so.”
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia also said it was completing damage assessment Friday morning, adding in a Facebook post that “everything looks good but we are going to be using much of the day to make sure.”
At 1:30 p.m. local time Friday, the installation added that it “is now back to normal operations and access to the base is open to all authorized persons.”
As of Thursday, approximately 5,000 National Guardsmen from Florida, Louisiana, New York and Tennessee were positioned in southern and central Florida to provide search and rescue operations and other forms of relief.
National Guardsmen from Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina and Montana are also en route to assist, according to National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson.
Additionally, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for South Carolina, a needed step to speed federal assistance for recovery once Ian passes.
Separately, the Department of Veterans Affairs shared Friday that it was suspending debt repayments for veterans and family members who were impacted by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Fiona.
Ian has left a broad path of destruction since coming ashore as one of the strongest storms to ever hit the U.S. The storm flooded areas on both of Florida’s coasts, tore homes from their slabs and demolished beachfront properties.
At least 14 people have been confirmed dead in the U.S., a number almost certain to increase as officials gain access to areas devastated by the storm.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.