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Getting Back To Normal
July 5, 2012
By Col. Gregory D. Gadsen, Garrison Commander
The vicious storm that blew through Fort Belvoir and the entire region Friday night downed more than 700 trees on post, blew the roofs off buildings, and cut power to virtually everyone here who had no generator. Off post, millions of people lost power. Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia all declared states of emergency.
As if dealing with record-breaking heat last week wasn’t enough, we were visited by a storm that hit suddenly, and left incredible damage in its wake. We are still tallying up the storm’s cost, but, folks who have been here many years swear they have never experienced anything like it.
I want to thank our workforce, residents and partner organizations for their continued patience as we recover. Please know that my top priority is ensuring your safety, comfort and continued ability to live and work at Fort Belvoir.
I also want to thank all the people who are working hard to make recovery from this storm as short as possible. Within hours of the storm’s strike Friday night, crews from the Installation Support Services were out clearing roads of debris from fallen trees and blocking off downed power lines. Directorate of Emergency Services personnel ensured access-control points were manned and traffic lights received the required services.
Dominion Power contractors worked 16-hour shifts, to repair power poles and substations vital to safety of personnel, operations and residential areas. The Directorate of Logistics and Directorate of Public Works teams worked tirelessly to ensure emergency generators were working and had fuel. Generators not working were replaced with back-up generators.
What we experienced Friday night is a storm called a, “derecho,” a Spanish word that means ‘straight.’ It refers to a storm’s powerful straight-line winds. Derechos typically form along the top of a hot air mass and can move an average of 70 miles per hour. That wind speed is normally associated with a Category 1 hurricane.
The power company crews tell us they have only seen damage and historic levels of outages like this after hurricanes. The crumpled metal bleachers on Long Parade Field attest to that and trees more than a century old broken in two like toothpicks attest to that!
Still, we are thankful there was no loss of life or serious injury. I’m extremely proud and even more humbled by the patience, understanding and genuine compassion of our residents, partners and surrounding community in dealing with the storm and its aftermath. We appreciate the tireless efforts of our work force and our residents to watch out for each other, and help one another. I urge you all to continue leaning forward as we work toward full recovery.
It was telling of the Fort Belvoir community that, as power began to return on Sunday and Monday, people getting power opened their homes and hospitality to those still waiting. That speaks volumes about the military family. I urge you all to continue leaning forward as we work toward full recovery.
Fort Belvoir Responds To Storm Damage
July 5, 2012
By Rick Musselman
FORT BELVOIR, VA —Fort Belvoir’s Installation Support Services and Directorate of Emergency Services personnel conducted major repair and clean up operations in response to wide-spread damage sustained during a severe thunderstorm that swept across the post Friday night.
The storm brought winds in excess of 70 mph that damaged or took down a number of trees and utility poles and resulted in the loss of electrical power, communication lines and internet connectivity over a large portion of the installation.
“Between the housing areas and all of the other buildings, I would say about 50 percent of the installation was without power,” said Frank Hentschel, Directorate of Emergency Services, deputy director, Monday.
According to Rich Gillen, Dominion Virginia Power, project and compliance coordinator, the bulk of the power outages occurred in the residential areas of Fort Belvoir, as well as Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, the Warrior Transition Battalion, Davison Airfield, the Community Center, Commissary, Post Exchange and four Child Development Centers.
All told, seven Dominion personnel, five contractor foremen and 28 line crewmen operated 11 bucket trucks and 5 auger trucks to replace more than 20 broken utility poles.
“Approximately 14 spans of overhead primary wire were down, 10-12 additional spans of overhead lines were affected by trees, two overhead transformer banks on the ground and two overhead switches were damaged. Multiple other locations sustained smaller scale damage,” Gillen said.
Hentschel added the installation handled tree removal and physical infrastructure repairs through its own internal agencies and directorates and crews made good progress in bringing the post’s roadways and facilities back to operational levels.
“The work is primarily being done by Installation Support Services, with overall management provided by the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security as well as the Directorate of Public Works,” he said Monday. “So if there’s a tree across the road, we will block off the road, call DPTMS and tell them we need a work order in to get a tree removed and ISS comes out and removes it. And there’s (already) a huge difference between yesterday at this time and today.”
“We’re doing pretty well considering how major this problem was,” said Paul Gillespie, Installation Support Services, division manager. “We got all the main roads opened Saturday and Sunday. There’s still a lot of debris we’re trying to get to; we’re focusing on parking lots now, getting the debris piled up so we can collect it later. But we had such a good turnout (of volunteers) and such great help from the people on post. People not coming to work Monday helped tremendously.”
According to Ken Christiansen, DPW operations manager, ISS received between 150-200 damage reporting calls over the weekend which kept the agency informed and operations properly directed.
In addition to their role as first responders in the storm’s aftermath, ISS also provided emergency backup power generators to priority areas of the installation.
“We implemented generator services for places like the fuel point here on post, to provide fuel for the government vehicles and we had to use a generator at our facility for our fuel. We have a good (communication) system in place, though, so when things go from bad to worse, we know who to call and get the word out.”
Gillespie also said that people who work and live at Fort Belvoir helped the clean up and restoration effort by staying in contact with ISS with reports of downed trees, utility poles and power lines.
“We need to know where the damage is; don’t ever assume we already know where it is,” he said. “The best thing is just making a call to our work order center at (703) 806-3109; even if it’s a duplicate call, we will automatically know about the problem. We go through those calls and we’ve kept up with them with a log since the minute this thing hit. We had people here within three hours of the actual storm. We have a system that works. We worked in conjunction with DPW and we were constantly on the phone with Ken Christiansen in their operations department and director Bill Sanders. We were all out here Saturday and Sunday.”
In terms of the restoration of electricity, Dominion Virginia Power made significant progress Sunday in reestablishing electric service to Fort Belvoir. Dominion expected the remainder of the post’s service to be restored quickly.
“We anticipate the majority of Fort Belvoir will be restored by midnight Monday, but we will continue working Tuesday to restore power to any remaining isolated areas and any of the areas where greater than anticipated damage is encountered,” Gillen said Monday.
He added, as of 9:30 p.m. Sunday, electrical service in the following areas had been restored: Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Warrior Transition Battalion, Davison Airfield, Building 2444, Fisher House, Community Center, Child Development Center, Dining Facility Building 1822, Commissary, Post Exchange, Jackson Loop, 2100 area, CDC Building 1207, CDC Building 1744, and CDC Building 1028. Residential areas with restored power include Woodlawn Village, Lewis Heights, George Washington Village, River Village, Herryford Village, Vernondale Village and Collier Village.
Virtually all the following areas of the post had power restored by midnght Monday: the 300 area; Defense Logistics Agency (complete restoration); Bowling Center; Golf Course; Child, Youth and School Services Building 950 and Youth Center Building 1003. Residential areas slated to have power restored by midnight Monday included Dogue Creek, Belvoir Village, Fairfax Village, Russell Loop, Gerber Village, Jadwin Loop, Cedar Grove and Park Village.
For residents of the post housing areas, financial management of storm damage affecting their homes has become a concern as well.
“We provide renter’s insurance through Alliance Insurance, (703) 888-5088, and they will provide coverage for damage, food spoilage and even hotel stays if necessary, up to $20,000 coverage per occurrence,” said Jeff Hopkins, Fairfax Village Management Office, Executive Homes Coordinator.
People who reside off post should contact their respective insurance agents to ensure their coverage is working for them.
For updates on electric service restoration on post, contact Gillen at (703) 943-9384. For updates regarding tree removal and clean up operations or to report damage, call the ISS work order center at (703) 806-3109.
Hurrican Season Arrives, Requires Preparation
June 21, 2012
By Max Maxfield
ARLINGTON, VA.—Now that hurricane season has arrived, military families near the Gulf Coast or the Eastern Seaboard should assess how vulnerable they are, and review their emergency plans to ensure they weather the season safely.
There are resources around the Web that can help families prepare for worst-case scenarios. Ready Army, Ready America, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, all have resources available at their websites that can help military families make emergency plans, protect their property from damage, and build "bug-out bags" in case mother nature takes aim at their homes.
Hurricanes can destroy a family home, and even take out an entire city, or region. Families should plan for emergencies and have their own emergency supplies ready for a sustained loss of support from outside agencies. Families cannot count on immediate support from local authorities if a hurricane cripples an entire area. Hurricane Katrina is an example of how one storm can overwhelm the support system families might think they can rely on for assistance.
Hurricane Katrina, which came ashore Aug. 28, 2005, as a Category 3 hurricane, was the most destructive storm in terms of economic losses, according to the NOAA. Its 125 mph winds and storm surge overwhelmed the city of New Orleans, and much of the surrounding area. It cost an estimated $125 billion in damage.
Military families can hope that they are not affected by a hurricane this season, but they should also prepare for the worst-case-scenario.
HAVE A PLAN
Families should have and emergency plan. All family members should know what to do in case of an emergency. Ready Army suggests families discuss issues such as where children will go if they are in school at the time of an emergency. While phone lines and cell phones may not work, text messaging sometimes works even if cell phone lines are overwhelmed with calls.
Families should ensure their plans include how they will evacuate family members with special needs, as well as pets. All members of a family should have an in-case-of-emergency point of contact in case they cannot reach each other. A trusted relative living outside of the area expected to be affected by the storm would be a good candidate. A local point of contact should also be established. These names and phone numbers should be programmed into all family member cell phones, and written copies should be with all family members as well.
EVALUATE THE RISK -- WATCH VERSUS WARNING
According to the NOAA, a hurricane watch means hurricane conditions -- sustained winds of 74 mph or higher -- are possible within a certain area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of when the NOAA expects the onset of tropical-storm-force winds -- sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.
The watch is issued well in advance of the storm so that families have time to prepare properly. Once the tropical-storm-force winds arrive, making final preparations could be difficult. Families should prepare in advance.
A hurricane warning also means hurricane conditions are expected within an area. However, it is issued 36 hours before the expected onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
HOW BAD IS BAD?
Families living in coastal areas may be vulnerable to storm surges, or storm tides. Ready Army defines a storm surge as a dome of water pushed ashore by winds during tropical storms and hurricanes. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50 to 1,000 miles wide. They define a storm tide as a combination of storm surge with normal tide, increasing the amount of water. For example, a 15-foot storm surge with a two-foot normal tide creates a 17-foot storm tide.
It is useful to know just how strong a hurricane will be when it reaches an area. Families in the path of a hurricane can learn from all weather sources what a storm's expected strength will be when it reaches their area. Hurricanes fall are rated by category from Category 1 thru Category 5.
Category 1 -- winds 74-95 mph, storm surge 4-5 feet, minimal damage to plants and signs
Category 2 -- winds 96-110 mph, storm surge 6-8 feet, some flooding, minimal damage to mobile homes, roofs, and small crafts
Category 3 -- winds 111-130 mph, storm surge 9-12 feet, extensive damage to small buildings and low-lying roofs
Category 4 -- winds 131-155 mph, storm surge 13-18 feet, extreme damage with destroyed roofs and mobile homes, downed trees, cut off roads and flooded homes
Category 5 -- winds exceeding 155 mph, storm surge over 18 feet, catastrophic damage
KNOW YOUR VULNERABILITIES
Families should find out if they live within an evacuation area. Because hurricanes can travel inland for hundreds of miles before losing their energy, people living inland in front of an approaching storm may still be at risk.
Families should know if their home or property is vulnerable to a storm surge (usually coastal areas), flooding from either rain or swollen rivers nearby, or wind. The most well-stocked disaster supply kit cannot help a family if it was stored in a basement that flooded.
PROTECT YOUR HOME
Families can take steps to minimize the damage caused to their home, and to protect themselves financially, should the storm damage their property. Families in coastal areas should consider flood insurance. According to Ready America, flood insurance is the only way for people to financially protect themselves should their homes or businesses be damaged by a flood.
Families can also take precautions to protect their homes from an impending hurricane, and to ensure decent quality of life in the aftermath of a storm. They should:
-- Cover all of your home's windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds.
-- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
-- Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
-- Secure your home by closing shutters, and securing outdoor objects or bringing them inside.
-- Turn off utilities as instructed. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
-- Turn off propane tanks.
-- Install a generator for emergencies
-- Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
-- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
-- Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting www.FoodSafety.gov.
BUILD A "BUG-OUT BAG"
When the order comes to evacuate, families should evacuate. It is possible that a family not in an area under evacuation order may still have to leave their home if it suffers an unexpectedly high amount of damage. In these situations, prepared families can grab their "bug-out bags" and make it to safe areas before less prepared people. This little bit of preparation can pay off in the quality of live a family has in the days following a disaster.
Various emergency and readiness resources suggest the following items be packed and ready to go BEFORE a storm hits:
Home emergency kit
-- Water -- at least one gallon per person per day for at least three days
-- Food -- nonperishable food for at least three days (select items that require no preparation, refrigeration or cooking such as high energy foods and ready-to-eat, canned meat, vegetables, fruit)
-- Manual can opener (if the food is canned), preferably on a multi-tool
-- Reusable plates, cups, utensils, saucepan (note, a metal bowl can double as a cup or plate)
-- First aid kit
-- Prescription medications and medical
-- Personal sanitation supplies, such as moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
-- Hand-crank or battery operated flashlight
-- Hand-crank radio or battery operated cell phone charger
-- All-hazards NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio
-- Extra batteries at the size required
-- Cord to charge cell phone from AC outlet in vehicle
-- Brightly colored plastic poncho (can be used as shelter, clothing or a marker)
-- Weather appropriate clothing to keep your family warm and dry
-- Cash in case Point of Sale devices and Automatic-Teller Machines are offline
-- Any tools needed for turning off utilities
-- Local maps and your family emergency plan
-- Your command reporting information -- know the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and
Assessment System (ADPAAS)
-- Important documents, including will, medical and financial power of attorney, property documents, medical instructions
-- Emergency preparedness handbook
-- Infant formula and diapers if you have young children
-- Pets supplies, including food, water, medication, leash, travel case and documents
-- Matches or flint in a waterproof container
-- Sleeping bag or other weather-appropriate bedding for each person
-- Coats, jackets and rain gear
-- Fire extinguisher
-- Paper and pencil
-- Books, games, puzzles, toys and other activities for children
-- Any items necessary for a specific type of disaster
Portable emergency kit -- take this kit with you when you are ordered to evacuate.
-- Place items in a designated area that will be easily accessible in the event of an emergency.
-- Make sure every member of your family knows where the kit is.
-- If you are required to shelter in place, keep this kit with you
-- Consider adding enough supplies to last two weeks
Workplace Emergency Kit -- this kit should be in one container to be kept at your work station in case you must evacuate from work.
-- Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes at your work place in case you have to walk long distances.
-- This kit should include at least food, water and a first aid kit.
-- Make sure you include your family's communications procedure.
Vehicle Emergency Kit
-- In the event that you are stranded while driving, keep this kit in your vehicle at all times.
-- This kit should contain at a minimum food, water, a first aid kit, signal flares, jumper cables and
seasonal clothing (coats, rain gear).
-- Make sure you include your family's communications procedure.
Families cannot stop mother nature from taking a swipe at where they live or work. However, by having a plan, knowing the risk, taking precautions, and preparing for the worse-case scenario, families can reduce the risk of getting hurt from a hurricane, having their homes damaged, or having their quality of life drastically affected, should a hurricane come through their area.
Prepared families can weather a storm well, even if local, state, or federal agencies can't help them immediately after a hurricane hits.
Fort Rucker Promotes Ready Army Emergency Preparedness Program
May 17, 2012
By Nathan Pfau
Army Flier Staf Writer
FORT RUCKER—It's impossible to know exactly when or where a disaster might strike, but the Ready Army program wants to makes sure that people on Fort Rucker are prepared for anything that might come along.
Ready Army is an emergency preparedness program that is being revamped for the Fort Rucker community, according to Maj. J. Massey, emergency management operations officer at the Installation Operations Center.
"Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed."
That is the theme of the program and outlines what people will need to be prepared in case of an emergency, he said.
"This is taking a proactive effort to get you, your Family, friends and pets to be ready to react to an emergency," said Massey. "We're only 90 miles from the coast and hurricane season is June through November; what better time is there [for people] to examine [their] preparedness and determine if their Family is ready for an emergency?"
Massey said that every Family should be able to have enough supplies to be able to sustain themselves for at least three days after a disaster occurs, and they can start preparations by getting a kit.
According to he IOC officer, people should get an emergency kit that includes the basic supplies like water, canned foods, batteries, flashlights, blankets, a first aid kit and any supplies that a Family might need for their own specific needs.
"Make sure there is enough water for you, your Family and even your pets for at least three days," he said, adding that the recommended amount of water per person is one gallon per person per day.
Along with having an emergency kit, Families should also make and practice an emergency plan for any situation that might arise.
"Families need to rehearse this plan," said Massey. "Take a few hours one day and go over the plan with your Family and make sure that everyone in the Family knows what they are suppose to do in the case of an emergency."
He said that having a well-rehearsed plan will create a better understanding of how to deal with an emergency and help with keeping in communication and staying safe during an emergency.
Communication with Family members is important, but Massey said maintaining communication with the outside world is just as important and people need to be informed in the event of a disaster.
"People should know how they are going to be informed if an emergency arises," he said. "If there is a hurricane approaching or if there is inclement weather, they should know how they are going to get their information."
Fort Rucker offers a way to be notified with CodeRED, which is an emergency notification system designed to notify people that sign up for the service of the threat of severe weather, said Massey.
The service is free and available to all Fort Rucker personnel and people need only visit www.rucker.army.mil/codered/, or click on the CodeRED link on left side of the screen the Fort Rucker website, he added.
Massey said a website specifically for the Fort Rucker Ready Army program is in the works to tailor specifically to the needs of emergencies that are specific to the area and their main focus is to get people educated on emergency preparedness.
"It's all about getting people involved and making sure they are ready to handle something that might happen," he said. "We just want people to plan ahead, be informed and understand the dangers."