Are you prepared? It’s a question that arises every September aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany marking the start of national preparedness month. It also happens to be a peak period for South Georgians, known as hurricane season. And the Mission Assurance division works to ensure that active-duty Marines, civilian-Marines, and their families are ready for all disasters even if they strike from afar.
“Even though we didn’t actually go through and execute the full scale of evacuation of Parris Island during Hurricane Florence, we got right to the brink of that,” Capt. Waylon Buchan, senior watch officer, Military Operations and Training Branch, MCLB Albany, explained.
Nearly two months after arriving here as the new senior watch officer of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Buchan’s feet was put to the fire with Hurricane Florence.
In a matter of days, Buchan would prepare to house thousands of recruits from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. And thanks to prior experience in tactical air command and combat operations centers, he stood ready to jump into action.
But what he said really helped him execute the mission was the team.
“The team here experienced this kind of thing before so it was nice to be able to roll into it with a lot of experience,” Buchan said.
MCLB Albany supported Parris Island’s evacuation of recruits back in 2016 for Hurricane Matthew. And for the next two years, an advanced party came to MCLB Albany and recruits from PISC were on standby to evacuate.
“Although they didn’t come, we were prepared because we have done it time and time again,” Steven Dancer, MCLB Albany Installation Emergency Manager remarked.
For Buchan, it was an opportunity to capture valuable lessons learned through the planning process.
“The big picture was just working with the folks from Parris Island and having an opportunity to work through that memorandum of agreement … to make sure it’s (updated) and everyone understands their roles and responsibilities,” Buchan added.
Much of the team was ready due to monthly EOC training provided by Dancer.
“At least once every three months, we want to hit a scenario-based discussion so we can prepared for something like this,” Dancer explained.
Dancer has gone from living through hurricanes as a Marine at Camp Lejeune to now creating scenarios that test how well an installation is prepared for a disaster. Although the base experienced destructive weather from a tornado back in 2017, Dancer urges everyone to remain vigilant.
Several National Preparedness Month displays are placed in high traffic areas around the installation.
Here is some of the information you’ll find:
Procedures for shelter-in-place, lockdown or other seek shelter immediately drills
Preparedness kits for family, kids and pets
Electronic Mass Notification System (eMNS)/AtHoc and Dougherty County “Code Red” System
“Knowing what those words mean, and the proper actions for those words could potentially impact whether someone lives or dies,” Dancer added, “ultimately, it’s taking care of the family and the community as a holistic approach to be able to take care of one another.”