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JTF-Bravo assessment team arrives in Belize following Hurricane Dean

BELIZE CITY, Belize - Approximately 20 Soldiers and Airmen from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, deployed here as part of an initial assessment team following Hurricane Dean Aug 21. The team members were transported via two UH-60 Black Hawk and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The team is comprised of a security detail, medics, engineers, search and rescue assets and communications specialists.    (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize - Approximately 20 Soldiers and Airmen from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, deployed here as part of an initial assessment team following Hurricane Dean Aug 21. The team members were transported via two UH-60 Black Hawk and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The team is comprised of a security detail, medics, engineers, search and rescue assets and communications specialists. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize - Air Force Maj. Jason Clark, operations officer for the Tactical Operations Center here, uses a satellite phone to contact Joint Task Force-Bravo headquarters at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, shortly after touching down here.  Approximately 20 Soldiers and Airman from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, deployed here as part of an initial assessment team following Hurricane Dean Aug 21.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize - Air Force Maj. Jason Clark, operations officer for the Tactical Operations Center here, uses a satellite phone to contact Joint Task Force-Bravo headquarters at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, shortly after touching down here. Approximately 20 Soldiers and Airman from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, deployed here as part of an initial assessment team following Hurricane Dean Aug 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Left, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Russell Fairbanks and Air Force Capt. Ernesto Garcia, both currently assigned to J6 Communications at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, setup a Broadband Global Access Network system shortly after landing here to establish internet and email access for communication with Joint Task Force Bravo at Soto Cano.  The two are part of a group of approximately 20 Soldiers and Airmen deployed here to provide an initial assessment of the country following Hurricane Dean Aug. 21.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Left, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Russell Fairbanks and Air Force Capt. Ernesto Garcia, both currently assigned to J6 Communications at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, setup a Broadband Global Access Network system shortly after landing here to establish internet and email access for communication with Joint Task Force Bravo at Soto Cano. The two are part of a group of approximately 20 Soldiers and Airmen deployed here to provide an initial assessment of the country following Hurricane Dean Aug. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Army Sgt. Barry Baptiste, a fuels specialist assigned to the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, loads cargo onto a trailer with the help of soldiers from the Belizean Defense Force here Aug. 21.  Sergeant Baptiste, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is here with a team of approximately 20 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen serving on an initial assessment team following the landfall of Hurricane Dean.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Army Sgt. Barry Baptiste, a fuels specialist assigned to the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, loads cargo onto a trailer with the help of soldiers from the Belizean Defense Force here Aug. 21. Sergeant Baptiste, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is here with a team of approximately 20 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen serving on an initial assessment team following the landfall of Hurricane Dean. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Members of the Belizean Defense Force here board a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter to be transported to other areas within the country following the landfall of Hurricane Dean here Aug. 21.  The Chinook, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, transported approximately 20 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen here as part of an initial assessment team following the hurricane.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Members of the Belizean Defense Force here board a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter to be transported to other areas within the country following the landfall of Hurricane Dean here Aug. 21. The Chinook, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, transported approximately 20 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen here as part of an initial assessment team following the hurricane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Air Forced Tech. Sgt. Heather Prater, a civil engineer deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., reviews the video captured by an Automated Route Reconnaissance Kit, or ARRK, after flying on a survey mission to assess damage here caused by Hurricane Dean Aug. 21.  Sergeant Prater is here with a team of approximately 20 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen serving on an initial assessment team following the landfall of the hurricane.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize ? Air Forced Tech. Sgt. Heather Prater, a civil engineer deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., reviews the video captured by an Automated Route Reconnaissance Kit, or ARRK, after flying on a survey mission to assess damage here caused by Hurricane Dean Aug. 21. Sergeant Prater is here with a team of approximately 20 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen serving on an initial assessment team following the landfall of the hurricane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs)

BELIZE CITY, Belize -- Approximately 20 Soldiers and Airmen from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, deployed here as part of an initial assessment team following Hurricane Dean Aug 21.

The team members were transported via two UH-60 Black Hawk and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The team is comprised of a security detail, medics, engineers, search and rescue assets and communications specialists.

Upon arrival, task force personnel took Belizean Defense Force and American Embassy leadership on a two-hour flight to survey the damage from the storm.

"We went north to Corozal and surveyed the damage along the coast," said Army Maj. Michael Angell, task force commander for the mission. "We flew around that town, a couple of other villages, and stopped to pick up three Belizean Defense Force medics and transport them to another location," he said.

Based the initial assessment from today's flight, Major Angell said damage to the country's infrastructure was minimal.

"One village had a lot of roofs blown off, billboards blown over, and that was the extent of the damage," he said.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Heather Prater, a civil engineer deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., flew on the mission with an Automated Route Reconnaissance Kit, or ARRK, to capture video of the potentially damaged areas.

"There was some flooding and trees uprooted," she said, "but even up around the coast it looks good."

During the flight, Sergeant Prater used a hand-held video camera to capture the route of the helicopter. Later, after downloading the data from the ARRK system, she was able to provide detailed photos and video that correlated to a global positioning system location, pinpointing the damage on the map.

Although there wasn't a lot of structural damage that he saw today, the major said the damage to the crops from the wind and flooding could be substantial.

"Agriculturally, they took a huge hit," he said, referring to the extensive damage to the sugar cane fields and papaya crop Belize is known for.

During the mission aboard a UH-60 Black Hawk from the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment at Soto Cano, the surveyors were also able to transport three Belizean medics to a nearby village.

A separate mission aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, also from the 1/228th, transported 26 Belizean Defense Force infantrymen to some of the outer lying areas that have no police or fire/rescue forces, said Major Angell.

The team is slated to fly another survey mission Aug. 22 to determine the other areas that may have potential damage.

"We're going to make more assessments in the morning and make the determination of what assets we need," Major Angell said. "We'll continue to support until they tell us we're no longer needed."

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