As President Trump was falsely asserting that Hurricane Dorian could strike Alabama, the U.S. military was setting up a hurricane logistics base in the state’s capital, calling it a "safe haven" from the destructive winds and storm surges.
The Defense Logistics Agency’s decision to open a hurricane support center in Montgomery, Ala., appears to further undermine Trump’s contention — which he repeated this morning — that Dorian could strike Alabama even though forecast models showed the storm hitting the Atlantic coast more than 100 miles to the east. Montgomery, in central Alabama, is north of where Trump indicated Dorian could land.
The defense agency opened the center Aug. 29 at Maxwell Air Force Base at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to store and distribute emergency supplies such as food and water. The air base also received military helicopters that were evacuated in advance of Dorian from Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida’s northeast corner.
"Maxwell is a prime location to provide emergency relief support and a safe haven location during severe weather," Col. Patrick Carley, commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing, said in a statement Tuesday.
The 42nd Air Base Wing has used Maxwell Air Force Base as a support center for previous major hurricanes including Irma and Michael, which hit Florida in 2017 and 2018, as well as Florence, which hit the Carolinas in 2018. The Defense Logistics Agency operates a global network of distribution centers for the U.S. military and is often called on to help with disaster response.
FEMA records show, however, that the agency has not opened a field office in Alabama in anticipation of Dorian. FEMA typically sets up agency field offices in states that are forecast to be hit by a major hurricane. The agency began moving its emergency workers to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Aug. 25 when Dorian was 1,000 miles east of the two territories.
FEMA has in recent days opened hurricane response centers in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Trump this morning repeated erroneous claims he began making Sunday that Dorian could strike Alabama. Trump wrote on Twitter that "in the early days of the hurricane … certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida & to the Gulf."
Instead, Trump continued, Dorian "turned North and went up the coast, where it continues now. In one model through Florida, the Great State of Alabama would have been hit or grazed."
The National Weather Service in Birmingham quickly rebutted Trump’s initial Twitter posting about Alabama on Sunday. That morning, the agency tweeted: "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east."
At a news conference yesterday, NOAA declined to answer a reporter’s question about Trump’s assertions concerning Alabama. "We’re going to defer to the White House on this. Thank you," NOAA spokeswoman Kate Brogan said.