Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s commander has cancelled a planned evacuation of recruits, drill instructors and other personnel from South Carolina to a base in Georgia, which is now in the path of Hurricane Irma, officials said.
“While we still feel the impacts of Hurricane Irma in the form of strong winds, rain and localized flooding next week, it is my determination that our 7,000-plus recruits and essential personnel are better served by remaining aboard the depot during the storm,” Brig. Gen. Austin E. Renforth said in a video statement on Saturday.
Renforth had authorized 6,600 recruits and 1,000 other personnel to go to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, on Friday morning, but he delayed the evacuation as Irma’s storm track moved further west, said Parris Island spokesman Capt. Adam Flores.
None of the recruits had been sent to Georgia when Renforth decided on Saturday to cancel the evacuation, Flores said. An advance team of Marines that had been sent to the Georgia base is slated to return to Parris Island. Non-essential military and civilian personnel and their families who have already evacuated from Parris Island can remain where they are until the storm passes.
Renforth said he did not want to burden emergency responders in southern Georgia by adding “what is essentially a small town’s population of people” into the storm zone. He also felt it was too risky to send recruits and personnel to Georgia in more than 130 buses when roadways there are stressed by people evacuating from Georgia and Florida.
“Our facilities aboard the depot can weather the anticipated storm conditions,” Renforth said. “The emergency services available between Naval Hospital Beaufort and Beaufort Memorial Hospital as well as our ability to transport injured personnel to these locations, if warranted, are sufficient until all emergency and medical services are fully restored in the Beaufort, South Carolina area,” Renforth said.
Kilo Company’s graduation is still scheduled to take place on Sept. 15, but it is unclear how the storm will affect graduation week events, he said.