Hurricane Maria forces Fort Bragg soldiers providing Irma aid to evacuate St. Thomas

Posted September 17, 2017 5:34 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— Hurricane Maria has caused a mission shift for Fort Bragg soldiers helping with Hurricane Irma recovery on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The 602nd Area Support Medical Company evacuated the island Sunday morning and the soldiers will wait out the storm aboard a Navy ship that’s navigating away from the tropical system.

Before the impending storm forced Fort Bragg soldiers to evacuate, some of them began their rotations at an emergency room at Schneider Medical Center on the island.

Patient care in the emergency room of the only hospital on St. Thomas never stopped, even after Hurricane Irma.

“We had one short of our record number of visits,” said Dr. Clayton Wheatly.

Fort Bragg soldiers have been providing some relief to hospital employees who were in need of a break.

“I can absolutely see the need. You look around and you see these nurses who have been working like the past 10 days straight who are exhausted so yeah, they need help,” said Sgt. Sonquaya Small with the 602nd Area Support Medical Company.

With the hospital staff having to work around the clock after Hurricane Irma, a fresh pair of eyes and willing hands are vital assets to keeping the emergency room running nonstop.

“That’s important so you don’t have people overworked because then you can miss things if you’re tired,” said Lt. Col. Danira Mayes with the 602nd Area Support Medical Company.

Once the soldiers return to the island, they will resume their duties at the hospital.