Marines deployed to Honduras prepare a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter to deploy to Grand Cayman Island, Oct. 4, 2016. U.S. Southern Command directed a team of about 100 military personnel and nine helicopters to Grand Cayman Island where they will be staged and ready to support U.S. disaster relief operations in the Caribbean if requested by U.S. Agency for International Development. Marine Corps photo

American rescue teams and military personnels will start arriving in Haiti Thursday, October 6th, to help provide relief, as officially requested by the Haitian government in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which has left many parts of the country devastated, reports the US Department of Defense.    

During a conference call from US Southern Command headquarters in Miami, Navy Admiral, Kurt W.Tidd said that Southcom is putting together the Joint Task Force Matthew, commanded by Navy Rear Adm. Cedric Pringle, to support requests for humanitarian assistance, Tidd said, “we've moved or we're in the process of moving nine helicopters to the Cayman Islands for potential onward movement to Haiti.”    

“The helicopters are a mix of Army and Marine Corps heavy- and medium-lift helicopters" said the Admiral. They include four Army H-60 helicopters, two medical evacuation helicopters and two utility helicopters that have search-and rescue-capability.  
“We expect the first helicopters to be on the ground at Port au Prince Airport tomorrow,” he said. “There's still some heavy weather between Jamaica and Haiti right now that prevents [the helicopters] from moving on today, but we're watching the weather closely, and as soon as they can tomorrow, we hope they will be on the ground.”

The military personnel associated with the nine helicopters are a team of about 100 Marines, soldiers and Navy personnel, and Pringle will arrive shortly with a joint task force headquarters staff.

“We expect that over the next few days that will grow to about 50,” Tidd said, “so right now we're looking at 150 to 200 people, U.S. military personnel, supporting efforts [being undertaken] by USAID on the ground in Haiti.”

Haiti had officially requested the assistance of the US government after it became overwhelmed by the scale of devastation caused by the powerful hurricane on Tuesday. Some 350.000 people are estimated by the United Nations to be displaced by the storm. Haiti so far remains the only country affected by Hurricane Matthew to request US assistance.