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Hurricane Irma

Guantanamo weathers hurricane well, commander says

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 9/9/2017 Carol Rosenberg
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, UNITED STATES - March 11, 2017: This is an enhanced Sentinel Satellite Image of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base - which fronts on Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. © (Photo enhanced by maps4media via Getty Images) GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, UNITED STATES - March 11, 2017: This is an enhanced Sentinel Satellite Image of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base - which fronts on Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba got through Hurricane Irma "relatively unscathed," with only a few downed trees and power lines, its commander said Saturday.

"So far no damage of any significance has been reported or discovered," Navy Capt. Dave Culpepper told the roughly 5,500 residents in a midday broadcast on Radio Gitmo. He had earlier decided not to send base residents to hardened shelters after forecasts showed the storm going north of the base, and no destructive winds were expected.

Bay waters were still rough, with 6-foot-swells, requiring no ferry crossings although a smaller utility boat could carry passengers between the Leeward and Windward sides.

Culpepper noted that, while the hurricane had passed to the north, windy weather might complicate a flight expected Tuesday connecting the base with Jacksonville, Florida, and Norfolk, Virginia.

He added that his decision to not open shelters on the 45-square-mile base was vindicated — "hindsight tells us we made the right call" — particularly in savings of unnecessary "manpower, effort and the money spent."

There was no immediate word from the prison spokesman, Navy Cmdr. John Robinson III, on whether the 1,500 or so staff and their 41 prisoners also escaped the storm unscathed.

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