As Hurricane Irma makes landfall on the continental United States, America’s military is already responding to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts in the Leeward Islands, where Irma left “catastrophic” levels of destruction, while preparing to do the same at home later this week.

St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a Defense Department press release, were among the hardest hit.

Preliminary property damage assessments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency describe ‘massive devastation,’” DoD spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said, “including ‘complete power/communications collapse’ in the [U.S. Virgin Islands], and substantial damage to a local hospital. Irma struck Puerto Rico a glancing blow, leaving 70 percent of the population — more than 1 million customers — without power.”

The U.S. Northern Command, led by Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, has assumed control of the Defense Department’s domestic response to Hurricane Irma, and they are coordinating with FEMA to allocate resources and personnel where they can be most effective in responding to the needs of the American people after Irma makes landfall.  In the meantime, operations to assist the areas already devastated by Irma’s powerful winds are ongoing.