Marines

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Col. Daniel Lecce, commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, flanked by Lt. Gen. John Paxton, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, speaks to and answers the questions of Tarawa Terrace families at a town hall meeting at the recreation center aboard the housing community, April 26. A week and a half after the destruction of the tornado that ripped through TT and the surrounding Jacksonville area, this meeting informed the affected residents of financial and donation aid options available to the through base and town facets.

Photo by Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

From tornado crisis response to crisis management, town hall meeting held aboard Tarawa Terrace

26 Apr 2011 | Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

In the base’s shift in focus from crisis response to crisis management, a town hall meeting was held for all families affected by the April 16 tornado at the Tarawa Terrace Recreation Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, April 26.

A week and a half after that devastating night aboard the base housing community and in the surrounding Jacksonville area, most of the displaced debris and rubbish have been removed and families have assessed their respective situations and made plans. The next steps for those affected were the subject of Col. Daniel Lecce’s, commanding officer of MCB Camp Lejeune, address.

“Approximately 50 houses were destroyed by the tornado that night,” said Lecce. “Since then, all the displaced residents have been relocated into temporary housing. Here, they’ll get help on what to do next.”

Joining Lecce at the podium for the town hall meeting was Lt. Gen. John Paxton, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force.

“We will continue to be here for you and with you as we work through the terrible incident last week,” said Paxton. “The entire Marine and Navy families are with you tonight.”

Lecce then spoke about the various relief options available for the families, such as financial aid and donated goods from Atlantic Marine Corps Communities, the Jacksonville USO office, the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society, the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars as well as the multitude of on-base facets such as the Provost Marshal’s Office, the Travel Management Office and the Staff Judge Advocate.

How to file various insurance claims was also covered as well as nearly every available route to additional financial assistance, such as partial dislocation allowance from AMCC and claims to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“In terms of clothing, food and other item donations, AMCC has stopped taking donations and the USO is nearly maxed out,” said Lecce. “However, everything from the AMCC community center will be moved to the Staff NCO thrift shop and Onslow Outreach out in town has opened a warehouse for more donations.”

After informing residents about their aid options, Lecce opened the meeting floor to questions, answering concerns from automobile insurance claim intricacies to tornado alarms for future occurrences.

“I’ll be honest with you - we could have done better on the notice,” said Lecce. “But we are now looking into the how of that. You cannot receive ample warning to evacuate with this type of weather condition, but we will do better in the future.”

The town hall meeting wrapped up with a reminder of where to go for further financial or donation aid, and that even with a disaster such as this, the community, on and off base, never faltered in the storm.

“As bad as this has been, it’s been great to see the community come together as it has,” said Lecce. “Everyone wants to help out in some way, and the donations just keep on coming. I’m very proud to be a part of such a close-knit community as this.”

For families in need of such financial or donation aid, contact AMCC by calling 866-509-2424. For assistance in making insurance claims, call the base legal department at 451-1903. For all other information, visit the base website, lejeune.usmc.mil, or the base’s facebook page, facebook.com/camp.lejeune.