"These men and women are putting themselves in harm's way to save the lives of their Floridians while many of their own families are evacuating", said Gov. Rick Scott. Figures from the National Guard Bureau showed Saturday that more than 625 Guard troops were assisting authorities in the Virgin Islands.
Kentucky Air National Guard members from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron also deployed.
They are expected to travel from MI to SC first and then move to Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
This morning, Hurricane Irma's strong winds and whipping rain are impacting the Florida Keys and the southern Florida mainland, according to news reports. The Defense Department said the USS Iwo Jima and USS New York are also prepared to provide additional support to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
"We're always ready to answer that call", said Air Force Capt. Roderick Bersamina. "We have made significant progress on our ports since Hurricane Irma passed, but the Port of St. Thomas was impacted severely".
The Pentagon has been preparing for Irma for several days now, sending Navy amphibious assault ships and Marine helicopters to the U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this week to transport people and supplies.
Gen. Hagler said states have become much better at sharing resources since the 1996 implementation of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, primarily a state-to-state agreement approved by Congress in the years after Hurricane Andrew.
The two ships had been deploying to the Texas Gulf Coast for Hurricane Relief but were called back as Irma began churning through the Caribbean island chains.
Additionally, Governor Cuomo personally spoke with Governor Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico and administration officials remain in close communication with counterparts in the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean nations in Irma's path, pledging to help in any way they can.