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Posted: September 7, 2017 4:10 p.m.
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Preparation key tackling disaster

Spc. Noelle E. Wiehe/

James Dean, contingency planner with the Fort Stewart, Directorate of Plans, Mobilization and Security, displays a hurricane supply kit in his office Sept. 5, on Fort Stewart. September is National Preparedness Month and with a hurricane possibly making its way up the east coast, Dean encourages Soldiers to be proactive.

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Clear thinking in the midst of a disaster is ideal yet challenging, but the safety specialists at Fort Stewart, Georgia, said that is why taking three steps prior to a disaster is the most important thing Soldiers can do for themselves and their Families.

 

“Have a plan to evacuate; have a kit to support your Family and pets for three days and stay informed,” said James Dean, contingency planner with the Fort Stewart Directorate of Plans, Mobilization and Security.

 

The steps are part of Ready Army, a campaign to increase resilience of the Army community and enhance readiness of the force by informing the community of relevant hazards, Dean said.

 

September is National Preparedness Month, and with a hurricane possibly moving up the coast, Soldiers are encouraged to be proactive.

 

“Most of the year, we’re in hurricane season – from May through November,” Dean said. “This is the height of the hurricane season. Most hurricanes happen in the Atlantic August and September.”

 

Dean said installations make decisions at different hurricane condition levels or HURRCON levels.

 

Daryl Lusk, safety specialist with the Fort Stewart Safety Office, said his expertise comes from past experience and training as a safety specialist. 

 

Lusk’s advice to Soldiers and their Family Members, which is in line with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is to:

• pay attention to the news to track the upcoming storm’s progress

• create an emergency supply kit

•ensure vehicles are fueled up and serviceable

• store loose items around the house such as hoses and grills and

•follow local directions from the local authorities.

 

Lusk recalls in 1999 when he was serving as an active-duty Soldier on Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, that the evacuees from Florida came to the area and brought up a large amount of supplies, leaving little for local Georgia residents should they have to evacuate.

 

Lusk said the key is to plan to have enough supplies to last about 14 days in the worst-case scenario. He said to always follow the advice of the authorities.

 

“Just pay attention to the news,” Lusk said.

 

Additionally, Soldiers must keep their chain of command informed of their whereabouts during a storm or evacuation as well as ensure their chain of command has their phone number and vice versa, Lusk said.

 

Eric Waters, emergency operations officer with the Installation Operations Center, highlighted the Army’s AtHoc system, a networked crisis communication system, as a means for Fort Stewart Soldiers to receive alerts and report to their unit that you are safe. 

 

The AtHoc system can keep Soldiers and installation personnel informed on hurricane warnings, post closures, evacuation orders and hurricane condition level changes, Waters said.

 

“My advice is to ensure that you are actually registered in the AtHoc system,” Waters said. “Utilize the purple globe, utilize the instructions that you got at the end of the month and actually log in and register your information.”

 

Lusk and Dean emphasized that Families should not leave their pets behind.  Ensure to bring all the pet’s medications, food and medical records.

 

“Take your pets with you,” Lusk said, noting that those who evacuate should be sure to bring the pet’s kennel, as most hurricane evacuation locations won’t allow pets without one.

 

For those leaving the area, Lusk said to turn off any propane tanks, unplug small appliances and for Soldiers to lock up their homes.

 

“Go away as if your home was going to be destroyed – you have to prepare for the worst,” Lusk said.

 

Lusk said that hurricane evacuations are different than off post evacuations because Families and Soldiers do not have the option of noncompliance, whereas local residents outside of post can choose to stay despite recommendations from local authorities.

 

Dean has held four briefings recently to encourage preparedness and has been requested to host more. He encourages Soldiers and Family members to educate themselves as much as they can and seek out information from local specialists.

 

 

Information and supply lists can be found at www.redcross.org or ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit. For information, contact the Fort Stewart Garrison Safety Office at 912-767-7880.


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