Fort Bragg soldiers deployed to US Virgin Islands to help after Irma

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) - Dozens of soldiers at Fort Bragg boarded a flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide assistance to the hurricane-ravaged area on Wednesday morning.

St. Thomas, the most populated of the U.S. Virgin Islands and a popular tourist destination, experienced the most extensive damage.

Fort Bragg's 602nd Area Support Medical Company and 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion will be deployed to the region with 30 to 40 paratroopers leaving Wednesday morning. Ten soldiers already deployed Tuesday to survey the area near St. Thomas' only hospital, Schneider Regional Medical Center, which has sustained major damage.

SFC. Rodriquez Waldenar was already on the grounds Wednesday when he spoke to CBS North Carolina's Beairshelle Edmé by phone and said, "There's a lot of damage, windows blown out-- electricity (out). Water coming down the roof, and it's-- it's pretty horrific".

St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island have all been without any electrical service for more than five days.

The soldiers will combat those conditions with local medical personnel to assist residents.

"As soon as we hear-- as soon as we get the word, (we) get everything together, get everything situated and just be prepared to go on there and help," said Cerelia Spencer, a Fort Bragg medic who was deployed Wednesday morning.

The company and battalion hope to complete several duties, including setting up triage as well as treating and evacuating patients. Treatment will include basic and emergency services.

Those deployed will also run a clinical lab, deliver packed red blood cells, and provide dental support.

In total, about 80 soldiers will provide medical support and could be deployed for the next 30 to 60 days.

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