Mother Earth offers a habitable place for people to live. However, she also tests our resilience by spinning up hurricanes to bombard our cities and towns with titanic force.
Adapting and planning for the possible contingencies brought on from annual hurricanes threatening Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and surrounding Marine Corps installations is a mission Marine Corps Installations East – MCB Camp Lejeune’s Operations and Plans Division can call an increasing success.
MCIEast – MCB Camp Lejeune recently conducted their hurricane exercise in preparation for the season, said Tim P. Harvey, Installation Emergency Management Program Manager of MCI–East – MCB Camp Lejeune G-3 Operations and Plans Division, MCIEast. Base officials are currently compiling information for an after action report, which will be reviewed for further improvement.
Hurricane season started June 1 and ends Nov. 30, peaking between August and early September. During the five-month period hurricanes pose more of a threat than any other natural disaster.
Last year tropical storm Irene lashed the coastal area in its path from Aug. 20 to 28 reaching a category three hurricane. Irene caused widespread destruction, which led to 56 deaths and billions of dollars in damages. The hurricane made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina Aug. 27 making it the first to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2008.
MCIEast – MCB Camp Lejeune plans for the possibility of the worst-case scenarios brought on by deadliest hurricanes to ensure they are capable of instituting organization and safety during disorder and danger.
Local departments are also playing to the same sheet of music.
“We work with the many departments to include the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center,” said Harvey. “If there is ever a big enough event where we had to evacuate, we’d coordinate with Onslow County Emergency Management and North Carolina’s Emergency Management. We are not an island unto ourselves, so we have to practice and coordinate exercises with the local departments.”
MCB Camp Lejeune has a Crisis Management Team ready for large-scale incidents along with their Emergency Operations Center, which utilizes a web-based portal to track the status of patrons and essential personnel, providing immediate updates and communication.
“What people don’t see behind the scenes is 24/7 work happening at lightning speed,” said Harvey. “Current operations officer, John Reeves is the manager and he’s done a good job with organizing the EOC. I’ve worked in many EOCs in my life and (MCB Camp Lejeune) is about the most well-oiled machine there is.”
Base officials have trained teams and units to mitigate a hurricane crisis, but take readiness a step further by providing information to service members and the public on hurricane preparation.
Patrons can visit www.mcieast.marines.mil to get tips such as creating disaster supply kits and preparing supplies for family members with functional needs. The website lists shelters on Marine Corps installations and shelters available in surrounding counties.
In addition, the site also posts weather tracking charts, phone numbers and internet links to supporting departments such as Onslow County Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, N.C. Emergency Management, the N.C. Emergency Association and the Coastal Carolina Chapter Red Cross.
“Your unit, government and everybody else will take care of you as best they can, but personal preparedness is paramount during any type of crisis,” said Harvey.
The fast acting and adaptive nature of Marines is fitting for the tribulations in war, as well as the threats of hurricanes. These traits are reflected in the Corps, down to the individual Marine, and the shared information and education within the organization is a foundation for strength.
“Knowledge is power,” said Harvey. “The more people know, the better off they’re going to be.”
Marine Corps Community Services’ Marine Corps Family Team Building program also offers a class on emergency preperation.
For more information on this workshop, visit www.mccslejeune.com.