An Aerial View of Hurricane Irma's Destruction in St. Thomas

An Aerial View of Hurricane Irma's Destruction in St. Thomas

"Our personnel are here to serve", Col. Larkin said.

Kentucky soldiers took off on a new mission Thursday morning to help those in the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

- The Army Corps of Engineers is already working in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to assist with power restoration efforts and have teams on stand-by to assist in Florida if or when needed.

Rep. Stacey Plaskett, the Virgin Islands' delegate to Congress, told USA TODAY the hurricane had "devastated" and ripped the roof off the only hospital on St. Thomas, shutdown the islands' 911 system and crippled roads and airports.

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The USS Kearsarge and the USS Oak Hill with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to be in the region on Friday.

Among the first to respond was an aeromedical evacuation squadron from the 137th Special Operations Wing, which Wilham said responded quickly and brought much-needed medical aid to Texans affected by the storms.

During his time in the guard, Knight has deployed to more Hurricane's than he can name, but the memories are still burned in his mind.

"Our soldiers are trained and equipped to provide the vital assistance that our fellow Americans are going to need following a massive catastrophic storm", said Maj.

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Military families and personnel who have been ordered to evacuate from Key West will be reimbursed for mileage, lodging, meals and incidentals based on rates for the 300-mile area around Atlanta.

Florida, along with both Carolinas and Georgia, has already declared a state of emergency as they brace for impact from the Category 4 storm and its 155 miles per hour winds.

As Irma moves north along Florida's Gulf Coast, the storm is expected to push waves of 20 feet and higher up the East Coast, according to ABC11 meteorologist Steve Stewart.

VA officials advised veterans to visit the administration's Hurricane Irma page for updates as the storm's impact unfolds.

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