Members of U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo) continue rescue efforts, humanitarian support, and transportation of health care personnel in areas of Panama affected by flood and mudslides due to Hurricane Eta.
As of November 11, the JTF-Bravo team has carried out some 15 rescues of people who were trapped in dangerous areas due to flooding. The U.S. mission in Panama has also transported about 10,900 kilograms of food as well as water to communities in Chriquí province and the Comarca Ngabe-Buglé, which were without supplies for a few days following the hurricane.
In addition, JTF-Bravo conducted reconnaissance flights with its helicopters to determine the damage to roads and infrastructure, and has evacuated people isolated by floods and landslides, and transported the bodies of victims from areas without land access.
“Thanks to the tireless work of our government team, the solidarity of the Panamanians and the Joint Task Force team, medical supplies, medicine, bags of food and utensils continue to arrive to the affected communities in Bocas del Toro and Chiriquí,” said Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo on Twitter.
Among the rescues made, the JTF-Bravo Public Affairs Office highlighted that of a 70 year-old man and his dog who were found weak due to lack of food and water. “We were told that he walked for seven days with his dog from the province of Bocas [del Toro] to Chiriquís. He apparently lost his horse along the way due to landslides,” JTF-Bravo Public Affairs Office shared with Diálogo.
According to U.S. Navy Captain Matthew Turner, senior Defense cooperation officer in Panama, some HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were already in Panama in preparation for an operation scheduled for January 2021 with the Ministry of Public Security, which allowed for immediate support to the affected areas.
“Working together, we have been able to rescue several people from hard to reach places, as well as [transport] more than 40,000 pounds [18,144 kg] of humanitarian aid, water, food, medicine to people in rural areas; we have had a very close collaboration, and we are happy to be able to help Panama,” said Capt. Turner.
JTF-Bravo Public Affairs Office said that as of the morning of November 11, the force had rescued 118 people throughout Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama and delivered 81,193 pounds of life-saving supplies.