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Hurricane Irene knocked down several trees at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Visitors Center Aug. 27.

Photo by Pfc. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Hurricane Irene No Match For Base

28 Aug 2011 | Pfc. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Now that Hurricane Irene has passed through Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, base officials have been working around the clock to pick up the damage caused by the storm.

The base has experienced loss of power, fallen trees and what preliminary estimates place as $2.4 million in damages.

Preparation for the hurricane included meetings to discuss setting up shelters and what resources were available to service members and civilians who live aboard the base. Base residents were also informed of shelters near their areas, what emergency supplies to have and handy tips for when the hurricane hit.

“We have a base destructive weather plan and that’s been set for years,” said James Mahoney, the deputy director of maintenance and operations with Public Works aboard the base. “It’s been finely tuned over the course of several hurricanes and tropical storms.”

For Marines who lived in the barracks, windows were taped so that if one shattered, the glass would not scatter and injure them. Sandbags were filled and laid out in front of all the doors on the first floor to prevent water from entering in the case of a flood.

According to Col. Daniel J. Lecce, MCB Camp Lejeune commanding officer, the base was very fortunate.

“We took some hits but no injuries, no deaths,” said Lecce. “I think we fared very well."

Lecce added that it is never too early to prepare for a hurricane.

“There’s not much to do once it’s here, but before, that’s where you make your money and I think we really did that,” said Lecce.

While information was passed through Marines’ respective chain-of-commands, Atlantic Marine Corps Communities did their part by informing their residents.

Yoko Isaac, a military spouse and resident of the Paradise Point community, said she heard loud thumps outside her house during the storm, however, with the e-mails she received, she was well prepared.

Isaac described the e-mails as, “very helpful,” as it detailed how she needed to prepare her home for the hurricane. She chose to stay at home through the hurricane. She was scared, she said, but she found it reassuring to know there were shelters on base. 

The base experienced multiple power outages during the storm. However, Jim Sides, the utilities director with the Public Works Division aboard the base, said the power was mostly operational by Monday night. While there may be a few areas which may take longer to fix, the power should was nearly operational by Tuesday evening.

“We’re continuing to work on the power,” said Lecce. “It is a continuing concern for us, but it takes a little bit of time, so we ask for some patience.”

Already, the base is back to its daily routine and most of Marine Corps Community Services businesses are open, or will be opening in the upcoming days.

On Sunday, work crews were already scouring the area and removing debris that could pose a hazard to drivers and pedestrians. Contractors were brought on base in order to deal with dangerous situations that the Marines have not been trained to handle.

“Dealing effectively with a storm requires the collective efforts of various departments and agencies on base,” said Mahoney.  “When coordination occurs between these entities as affectively as they did during this storm, the base is able to recover quickly and continue its mission - a direct reflection of the finely-tuned standard operating procedure that’s been developed over years of battling hurricanes and other disasters.”

As the commotion from Hurricane Irene settles down, base officials know that hurricane season is not over and will be prepared for any more hurricanes that may hit the area.

“Everybody rose to the occasion and did great work,” said Lecce. “I think everybody did exactly as the plan called and executed it well during the pre-hurricane operations, during the hurricane and during the recovery operation.”