More than 5,000 troops under U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs have gone to war with the aftereffects of Hurricane Michael.

Equipped with 100 helicopters, 1,800 Army trucks that can slog through high water and 90 boats, the troops from more than a dozen states are clearing roads and plucking stranded civilians from the wreckage left by the Category 4 hurricane that struck Florida's panhandle Wednesday.

"As initial damage assessments are occurring, military capabilities, such as high-water vehicles and aviation assets, are positioned to assist as needed," the command said in an email.

Northern Command worked for days ahead of the hurricane's landfall to pre-position troops and gear. That resulted in a swifter response, the command's Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said.

Northern Command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, is responsible for protecting the continent from attack and providing Pentagon help to local authorities in the wake of natural disasters.

Michael is the second major storm to trigger a Northern Command response this fall. Experts from the command were just wrapping up recovery work from Hurricane Florence, which struck the Carolinas a month before Michael headed toward land.

O’Shaughnessy praised work by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, saying "the close working relationship ... allows us to bring the full capability of the Department of Defense in support of both the state and the federal response.”

Michael headed back out into the Atlantic Friday after rampaging across the southeastern states. Authorities said the hurricane left unprecedented destruction and killed at least 13 people.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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