The latest weather updates are projecting Hurricane Dorian to hit Florida as a Category 4 storm as early as Saturday night, battering the state’s eastern coast with winds reaching upwards of 130 miles per hour.
Military installations in Dorian’s path are moving quickly to respond, taking as many precautionary measures as possible to ensure the safety of base personnel and equipment.
On Wednesday, the storm grazed Puerto Rico, a near miss that allowed residents still weary from the devastation caused by 2017′s Hurricane Maria to exhale.
Select ports scattered across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, meanwhile, remain closed for precautionary measures, according to a U.S. Coast Guard release. A number of ports are expected to open today, allowing for commercial vessel traffic and the resumption of port transfer operations, the release said.
As for actions stateside, here are the efforts underway in preparation for the arrival of the Category 4 behemoth.
Preparations at Naval Air Station Jacksonville are well underway.
Naval aircraft belonging to the Naval Air Station Jacksonville-based Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11, for example, began relocating today to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base near Columbus, Ohio.
NAS Jacksonville’s commanding officer issued a message to all hands in preparation for the storm.
NAVAL STATION MAYPORT
Naval Station Mayport, which sits less than 40 miles to the northeast of NAS Jacksonville, is undergoing similar preparations as their neighbors to the south.
Additionally, Mayport announced the cancellation of all MWR programs until further notice.
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE
Like NAS Jacksonville, aircraft from MacDill Air Force Base have also begun the evacuation process.
McConnell AFB, outside Wichita, Kansas, will host KC-135s from the 6th Air Mobility Wing until Dorian’s strong winds dissipate.
“The safety of our team and our families ... remains one of our top priorities,” Col. Stephen Snelson, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander, said in a message issued to base personnel.
Snelson also addressed any personnel evacuation questions in the message.
“We have no plans at this time to evacuate the base," he said.
"However, that could change in a moment’s notice.”
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE
Personnel of the 45th Space Wing, located on Florida’s east coast about 70 miles from Orlando, are also readying for the worst.
A recent post to the base’s official Facebook page declared the base has entered Hurricane Condition IV status in preparation for Dorian’s arrival.
“Base personnel and residents should take action to prepare for the possible arrival of hurricane-force winds,” the message read.
“This will include securing anything outside of buildings and anything outside of your on-base residence. In the event of a potential evacuation of the base and all barrier islands, preparing things now will help expedite a safe and orderly evacuation if needed."
Hurricane updates for Patrick AFB can be found here.
COAST GUARD RESPONSE
U.S. Coast Guard resources are ready to go for pre- and post-hurricane initiatives, with crew members at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Ponce De Leon Inlet and other locations working feverishly to prepare.
U.S. Coast Guard Southeast is continually updating its webpage and Facebook to keep personnel and the civilian population abreast with available resources at their disposal.
Tricare beneficiaries in 26 counties in Florida who may be affected by Hurricane Dorian will be able to get emergency prescription refills through Sept. 6, under a waiver announced by Defense Health Agency officials.
Those who are enrolled in Tricare Prime can temporarily get prescription refills without a referral from their primary care manager.
It’s best to get the refill at the pharmacy where the prescription was filled, but you can get it at any Tricare retail network pharmacy. Take your prescription bottle with you. If you normally visit a pharmacy that’s part of a retail chain, the prescription can be filled at another pharmacy in that chain.
The affected counties currently include: Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Flager, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Volusia, and Union.
Tricare beneficiaries who aren’t near their primary care provider or their provider isn’t available because of weather disruptions should remember they can visit an urgent care provider without a referral.
You can also receive nonemergency care for illnesses or injuries from these providers — just confirm the urgent care provider is an authorized Tricare provider.
ARE YOU PREPARED?
Take this Department of Defense-issued natural disaster quiz, or check off items on this hurricane preparation checklist to ensure all necessary safety measures are being properly employed.
Karen Jowers contributed to this report.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.