Parris Island Evacuates, Canceling Graduations as Dorian Threatens East Coast

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island started the evacuation of recruits to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., Sept. 3, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Dana Beesley)
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island started the evacuation of recruits to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., Sept. 3, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Dana Beesley)

Thousands of Marines and recruits will evacuate two South Carolina military installations as the deadly hurricane that devastated the Bahamas makes its way toward the East Coast.

Leaders ordered evacuations at Marine Corps Base Parris Island and the nearby Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Monday as Hurricane Dorian moves across the Caribbean and toward Florida and the Carolinas. Personnel and any dependents must head to safe locations at least 100 miles -- but no more than 400 -- away from the base, according to evacuation orders, which went into effect Monday.

All graduation events at Parris Island, where about 20,000 recruits train to become Marines each year, have also been canceled this week. That includes ceremonies for Golf and Papa companies, which were held at the base Sunday, ahead of schedule.

Related: Florida Military Bases Face Evacuations as Dorian Forces Aircraft, Ships to Be Moved

"The Marines will have an information graduation ceremony that will be made available online and will depart the depot following the ceremony utilizing commercial travel options," Brig. Gen. James Glynn, the recruit depot's commanding general, said in a video message.

Glynn said region is expected to start feeling the effects of Hurricane Dorian, a massive and slow-moving hurricane that pummeled the Bahamas over the holiday weekend, on Wednesday. Parris Island recruits will be relocated to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia.

Beaufort and Parris Island are near Hilton Head Island, on South Carolina's southeast coast. Parris Island is a marshy base just a few feet above sea level.

The recruits who move to the base in Albany will continue their training there, Glynn said, until it is safe to return. Uniformed personnel affected by the evacuations will be reimbursed for mileage, lodging, meals and other authorized expenses.

Personnel must provide receipts for all expenses, according to a memo signed by Col. Timothy Miller, MCAS Beaufort's commanding officer. Government travel charge card use is authorized for evacuation expenses by the cardholder only, he added.

Both bases will update their social media pages with additional information on the status of the evacuations. Glynn said Parris Island Marines and their families should expect the evacuation order to be terminated once the storm has passed, which is predicted to happen Thursday afternoon.

"All personnel should anticipate returning to the depot by noon on Friday as we return to normal operations," Glynn said.

This is the third time in a year that military personnel have been evacuated from East Coast bases because of hurricanes.

Read more: Hurricane Florence Was a 'Gut Punch' to Readiness, Marine General Says

In September 2018, Hurricane Florence led to evacuations up the coast, including at Parris Island, as that storm hovered over the region, dumping large amounts of rainfall and causing widespread flooding. Several bases, including Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, are still recovering from that storm.

About a month later, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida suffered severe damage as Hurricane Michael passed over the panhandle. That base is also still rebuilding after several buildings were destroyed by that storm.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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