MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
The June 1st kick-off of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season means base officials are keeping a close watch on the weather because a storm in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico could impact the base in more than one way.
“We’re prepared to respond to the needs of base personnel and their dependents if stormy weather strikes here as well as support evacuees from Department of Defense facilities along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico with whom we have agreements,” said Madeleine Tringali, operations and plans specialist, Operations and Training Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. “During previous evacuations to this base, Marine Corps Community Services and contractors provided essential services and the evacuees had access to the Marine Corps Exchange, and, in one case, the community provided buses so student-Marines could go to the mall and downtown. The Marine recruits were limited to the warehouse area.”
The Atlantic hurricane season lasts until Nov. 1, although storms have been recorded before and after the ‘official’ seasonal dates. When abnormal weather is noted that could develop into a hurricane, Tringali pays close attention.
“I start watching the storms when they come off the coast of Africa, to see how they develop. I also check the water temperatures in the Atlantic and Gulf, because when they get higher, you have a higher likelihood of storms developing there,” she explained.
If a low-pressure system begins to show signs of formation and rotation and becomes a threat to the U.S. mainland, contact between MCLB Albany and facilities in harm’s way, with which the base has an evacuation agreement, increases.
“When we see one that’s developing and is about a week away from making landfall, we make that preliminary contact to find out what they’re doing and what they’re planning. Everybody keeps an eye on a storm and when it’s three or four days out from anticipated landfall, the supported command makes a decision and we support it,” Tringali explained.
Each command with which MCLB Albany has a Memorandum of Agreement with sends representatives here each spring to review and update their agreements.
“We determine how many computer and telephone connections they will need, and other requirements, because the numbers can change. We had one case where a military training school was relocated from Pensacola, Florida, virtually doubling the number of personnel requiring support during an evacuation,” said Tringali. “Those types of things have to be considered because they impact the level of services we need to provide.”
If a hurricane threatens inland areas such as Albany, operations officials say residents should stay in tune with weather reports and be prepared to take necessary precautions and actions, should they become necessary.
“Base personnel should be in contact with their supervisors to determine who is essential or non-essential personnel for work scheduling,” she added.
The efficiency of evacuations of personnel from DoD facilities to MCLB Albany and the care of assigned military personnel and their dependents depends on pre-planning, coordination and checklists.
Should there be a need to house MCLB Albany military personnel or their dependents on base, venues have already been identified.
“There are three different sites on the base that have been set aside for Marines and their dependents who live aboard the installation,” said John Richard, operations and plans specialist, Operations and Training Division, MCLB Albany. “These are the Thomason Gymnasium, the Child Development Center and the Annex at the Base Chapel.”
“We check the plans every year and we must do that because things are always changing. For instance, with Hurricane Katrina, military personnel and their dependents from Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans were evacuated here. It was a wake-up call to us,” added Richard.
Forecasts for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season call for an ‘average’ number of storms, but those forecasts have been wrong in the past, and they have been accurate in the past, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Should hurricane weather threaten the Southwest Georgia region, base personnel are advised to monitor local weather reports for updated information and be prepared by having food, water, medications, cash, fuel and a plan of action, should it become necessary.
Preparation information and checklists are available at www.noaa.gov, www.nws.gov and other official Web sites.