From shore to ship for Fort Bragg soldiers riding out Virgin Islands storm

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Fort Bragg soldiers riding out Hurricane Maria on ship

The bright colors on our weather maps let you know that St. Thomas, Virgin Islands has major storm damage. Miles and miles of damaged buildings there provide a hint of the challenges faced by people who have homes on the island.

But the video shown on our air and online, shot inside a hurricane battered hospital, really gets your attention.

"Part of the ER has been closed down due to flooding," said Captain John Pennington in video shared with ABC11 by the U.S. Department of Defense. By the time we reached him by phone Wednesday morning, Captain Pennington and members of the 602nd Area Support Medical Company were on a military ship off the coast of St. Thomas.

"While we were performing hurricane relief duties, a second storm was inbound," he said. "So we were directed to board the ship and sail away to wait out the storm."

The storm's damage to the areas where the soldiers helped patients is significant.

"They have a wing of the hospital that's been condemned due to membrane on the roof coming off, which protects the water from leaking in," Pennington told ABC11. "We had our providers working with their ER and some of our medics as well as our evac crews augmenting in the evacuation department due to some shortfalls caused by the hurricane's damage to the hospital. Once the storm passes and we get the all clear, we'll be returning to the Virgin Islands."

Pennington says while the hospital has structural damage, he and his soldiers are prepared to stay there and help as long as they're needed.
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