Monday, October 29, 2012

JB MDL gears up for Hurricane Sandy

by 2nd Lt. Alexis McGee and Airman Sean Crowe
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

10/26/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST -- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst units began gearing up for the potential arrival of Hurricane Sandy with an Emergency Operations Center stand-up Oct. 26 here.

The representatives collaborated to determine the precautions base officials must take to prepare the installation for the approaching tropical wind system.

Tracking the storm and providing updates to joint base leadership and key personnel has been one of the 305th Operations Support Squadron weather flight's primary duties throughout the last few days.

"The large, long-lasting storm is expected to yield heavy rain and high winds," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Cothron, 305th OSS weather forecaster.

The weather flight is not the only unit at JB MDL Hurricane Sandy promises to keep busy.

The EOC is the command and control section for the joint base. The center is responsible for coordinating activities and efforts for this crisis and educating our planners on the hurricane's potential to impact the joint base, said Steve Robertson, JB MDL Emergency Management Office flight chief.

Unit representatives presented hurricane preparedness concepts, many mentioned lessons learned from last year's hurricane and how they were incorporating the lessons learned into planning for Hurricane Sandy.

Joint base planners left nothing on the table, even discussing how best to secure static displays, which include aircraft and Humvees, while the 87th Security Forces Squadron prepared to have individuals ready to respond when called upon.

Once EOC personnel determine requirements, the representatives go back to their units and begin executing hurricane preparations, Robertson added.

Airmen with the 87th Civil Engineer Squadron were dispatched to clean storm drains, place sandbags and drive sweeping trucks through the streets of JB MDL to remove debris from the curbs and gutters.

A key concern for the emergency management team is the safety of service members and their families and the joint base's ability to disseminate information and preparedness tips to the base populous.

'Effective communication during an emergency situation is critical to our success and ability to minimize the storm's impact,' said Robertson. 'Our Joint Base Public Affairs team is postured and ready to inform the joint base community with key information and tips on how to prepare for Hurricane Sandy.'

Preparedness tips include setting freezers and refrigerators to the coldest temperature, securing any outdoor objects that could become flying debris in the hurricane, avoiding driving through flooded areas and preparing battery-powered flashlights and radios.

'Families should have a communication plan set up in case they are separated from one another," said Robertson. "Families should also know where to meet loved ones after the storm and who they can call outside their area.'

Robertson also mentioned that texting may be a viable communication option during and after the storm since texting capabilities are sometimes available when phone calls may not be.

Pre-storm concerns were not the only issues discussed during initial planning for Hurricane Sandy. Officials also brought up post-storm advice, encouraging the JB MDL community to use caution when driving due to the number of fallen limbs and trees that may be present after the storm.

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