US Army Supports Reconstruction of Colombian Islands after Hurricane Iota
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo December 16, 2020
The U.S. Army deployed its amphibious landing ship USAV Chickahominy (LCU 2011) in Colombia to help the Colombian Military Forces transport humanitarian assistance to the San Andrés and Providencia archipelago, in response to the emergency caused by Hurricane Iota, which devastated much of the islands on November 16, 2020.
The crew, consisting of 10 U.S. Army service members who are trained to carry out landing operations in hard-to-reach areas, was responsible for transporting humanitarian aid, including poles for electrical wiring, cranes, a water tanker truck, and support vehicles, the Colombian Navy shared on Twitter on December 2.
The U.S. Embassy in Colombia said that, in response to a request for assistance from the government of President Iván Duque, the USAV Chickahominy ship docked on November 29 at the Port of Cartagena de Indias, where service members loaded about 130 tons of heavy equipment, relief supplies, and fuel to support the islands’ reconstruction process.
“This has been perhaps the most difficult situation that the Colombian Caribbean has experienced in its recent history. We had never had a category 5 hurricane in Colombian territory. This has been the toughest season in recent years, [with] more than 30 hurricanes,” President Duque said in Providencia on November 29.
The USAV Chickahominy had just finished a mission coordinated by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Ecuador, and was returning to the United States when it was requested to respond to Colombia’s call for help, the Colombian newspaper El Universal reported on November 29.
On November 27, Eduardo J. González, head of the Colombian Presidency’s National Unit for Disaster Risk Management, told the environmental website Mongabay Latam that “80 percent of the houses were destroyed and two people died. Days before [on November 2], the islands of Providencia and San Andrés had suffered the effects of Hurricane Eta, which reached category 4.”
The U.S. government has contributed more than $1 million to help the thousands of victims that Iota left in the archipelago’s islands, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Philip S. Goldberg said on November 25.
“The people of the United States stand in solidarity with the Colombian people to save lives, rebuild, and support the recovery of San Andres and Providencia,” Ambassador Goldberg said. “I am proud to say that U.S. humanitarian assistance, in all its forms, will continue in support of the people of San Andres and Providencia,” he concluded.