MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
A day with clear skies can change to gloomy clouds within hours when Mother Nature unleashes dark storms at North Carolina’s crystal coast. Those in the path of destruction should promptly seek a safe haven.
In previous years, tornados and hurricanes posed a large threat to those who live on or near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Storms with strong winds may have enough power to destroy a home, but there are facilities aboard the base able to stand up against nature’s forces. Marines with Companies A, B and I, Headquarters and Support Battalion, practiced storm shelter preparation at Lejeune High School as part of the base destructive weather exercise July 18.
In the event of a destructive weather situation, MCB Camp Lejeune will have shelters established at LHS, Brewster Middle School and Tarawa Terrace II Elementary School.
“We’re in hurricane alley in the southeast coast of North Carolina,” said Capt. James B. Blanton, a judge advocate with HQSPTBn., and the TT II shelter manager.
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.
“Having destructive weather is not a question of if, it’s a question of when, so we have to prepare every year,” said Blanton.
The teams cleared rooms in the shelters to stage supplies such as cots and water containers. Medical equipment was also brought by corpsmen participating in the exercise.
“We’re well trained corpsmen,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Alberto B. Ramos, a corpsman with the Hadnot Point Branch Medical Clinic. “I’m prepared to provide medical attention to anyone who may need it. I’ve dealt with everything from lacerations and abrasions to coughs and sniffles, so I’m confident in my abilities. My confidence helps me remain calm and collected, and in turn it can help the families calm down.”
The important part of establishing these shelters is to provide a safe place for families, said Sgt. Timothy J. Bunde, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the destructive weather team at LHS. There’s food, water, shelter and a support team available for the patrons. While everyone is here to help, there are also chaplains who can provide specialized support at every shelter, he added.
Finding shelter is only the beginning of dealing with the chaos families may face. A storm has the possibility of harming loved ones and destroying valued personal belongings.
“During a real-life situation people are going to be under a lot of stress, not only because of what’s going on here, but because of the things they’ve left at home,” said Lt. Jisup Choi, a chaplain with MCB Camp Lejeune. “As a chaplain, my role is to provide some kind of comfort so they can have emotional and spiritual support.”
The service members on the destructive weather team protect and defend this nation against all enemies to include the dangerous elements conceived by Earth.
“We train as if there was a real life scenario so our Marines can familiarize themselves with the setup of the shelters,” said Blanton.
Patrons can visit www.mcieast.usmc.afpims.mil under the emergency management section in staff offices for information on local shelters, 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.
Marine Corps Community Services’ Marine Corps Family Team Building program also offers a class on emergency preparation.
For more information on this workshop visit www.mccslejeune.com.