Photographed by an Expedition 24 crew member on the International Space Station, Hurricane Earl moves through the Caribbean just north of the Virgin Islands.

WASHINGTON (Sept. 1, 2010) -- The Defense Department is ready to respond should Hurricane Earl's projected landfall this weekend bring disaster to the Atlantic coast, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Ditchey said today.

Today, hurricane warnings were issued for North Carolina, and a hurricane watch was issued in Virginia. North Carolina's division of emergency management issued mandatory evacuations in some areas in the Outer Banks. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency for his state.

"The Department of Defense is monitoring Hurricane Earl, working closely with the [Federal Emergency Management Agency], and is prepared to respond if needed," Ditchey said.

FEMA's Region I defense coordinating officer also has been activated. The 403rd Wing from Kessler Air Force Base, Miss., known as the "Hurricane Hunters," has conducted five flights in the past 24 hours, providing aerial surveillance along the coast.

Also, North Carolina and Virginia National Guard have placed more than 250 guardsmen on state active duty to begin response preparations, he said.

"The National Guard is prepared, poised and ready to support the civilian agencies if requested," Ditchey said.

FEMA is urging people in Earl's path to take evacuation and safety guidance from local authorities. Families in the region should have evacuation plans in place.

Meanwhile, military installations in the projected impact areas are also taking precautions to ensure safety for people and equipment. Air Force aircraft and Navy vessels are prepared to evade Hurricane Earl, if needed. Decisions to move Navy ships and Air Force aircraft away from the storm's path will be made in the next two days, Ditchey said.

So far, state officials and civilian authorities have not requested military support.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16