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News > JB MDL, FEMA, continue post-Sandy relief efforts
Story at a Glance
 Sandy began as a tropical storm in the Caribbean Oct. 22. The storm intensified into a hurricane two days later.
 The joint base established the Reception Control Center in support of U.S. Northern Command's Base Support Installation designation. The 167th Theater Support Command and RCC teams worked together to coordinate units entering into the base.
 The estimated damage to the base was $8.2 million as of Nov. 26, said Capt. Samuel Jun, 87th Comptroller Squadron Financial Management Analysis and Liaison Flight commander.
 JB MDL provided thousands of gallons of fuel to multiple units, which were delivered throughout the region.
 EM will continue to work closely with FEMA on the ISB functions until commodities are no longer required.
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FEMA trailers at Lakehurst support Hurricane Sandy-relief efforts
Hundreds of trailers filled with Hurricane Sandy-relief supplies sit at the Federal Emergency Management Agency staging site Nov. 13, 2012, on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Lakehurst provided FEMA an Installation Support Base for hurricane-relief efforts. The staging area currently supports Region II operations. Region II includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Sean Crowe)
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JB MDL, FEMA, continue post-Sandy relief efforts

Posted 12/14/2012   Updated 12/14/2012 Email story   Print story


by 2nd Lt. David J. Murphy

12/14/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGURE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Hurricane Sandy brought destruction and devastation throughout the Northeast Oct. 29, 2012, but a prepared Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., withstood the impact and answered the call for support.

The joint base provided direct support locally and throughout the region while providing staging and logistical support to more than 100 additional agencies in a concerted relief effort.

The not-so calm before the storm

Sandy began as a tropical storm in the Caribbean Oct. 22. The storm intensified into a hurricane two days later.

The day before Sandy officially became a hurricane, Oct. 23, Steve Robertson, 87th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management chief, alerted 87th Mission Support Group leadership.

"We track any storm that forms in the Caribbean or the Gulf by using Hurrevac, a partnership program produced by FEMA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the Army Corps of Engineers," said Robertson. "We worked hand in glove with the 305th Air Mobility Wing weather office and national weather service to feed data to the group. We also started leaning forward on preparations because this was not your typical storm."

Robertson said he saw early on that Sandy had the potential to be a powerful event. He coordinated with a number of base agencies to get preparations under way.

"We worked with public affairs to ensure an information plan was put into place and messages were prepared for our AM radio station," he said. "We also made sure the base was secured and ensured loose objects were tied down, different units had sandbags, power was isolated and personnel were informed as to what was going to happen."

The Emergency Operations Center coordinated Hurricane Sandy-related activities on JB MDL.

The EOC stood up Oct. 26, and acted as the command and control center for the entire joint base. It's members coordinated activities and efforts related to the pending storm and worked with appropriate agencies to prepare for and mitigate the potential impact on the joint base, said Robertson.

The joint base established the Reception Control Center in support of U.S. Northern Command's Base Support Installation designation. The 167th Theater Support Command and RCC teams worked together to coordinate units entering into the base.

The EOC and RCC also provided support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency which also set up an Installation Support Base on Lakehurst Oct. 26. The agency utilized the large, open area around the site of the Hindenburg memorial as a staging area for relief efforts, and stored hundreds of trailers full of supplies and other commodities.

The staging area currently supports Region II operations. Region II includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Local units around the base worked in a synchronized effort to prepare themselves for the upcoming storm.

The 305th AMW's service members evacuated their aircraft prior to the storm to ensure assets weren't damaged as a result of high winds and debris. C-17 Globemaster IIIs were sent to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., while the KC-10 Extenders went to Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

The 305th Aerial Port Squadron also responded by working four main mission-preparation activities.

Maj. Ed Hogan, 305th APS commander, said these missions included the ongoing strategic-airlift mobility mission in support of U.S. Transportation Command; launching 305th AMW assets in support of hurricane evacuation operations; working with the 621st Contingency Response Wing to support their departure; and port closing in preparation of Sandy's impact.

The 305th APS and 621st CRW members worked together to move equipment to MacDill AFB to help ensure the 621st CRW could continue operations.

The 621st CRW is specifically designed to rapidly establish air mobility operations hubs worldwide. The unit's short-notice response capabilities include remote or damaged locations as well.

Approximately 150 guardsmen from the 108th Wing were activated for relief efforts while aircraft and resources were being evacuated.

The 108th Wing posted guardsmen strategically throughout New Jersey. The Air National Guard's mission primarily involved providing defense support to civil authorities in the aftermath of Sandy's landfall.

Army Support Activity-Dix personnel also worked with the Coast Guard's Training Center Cape May to provide housing for more than 300 recruits and 30 staff members.

The RCC worked in the EOC and helped coordinate four joint missions: reception, staging, onward movement and integration, or JRSOI.

Reception involves initial accountability, followed by staging, which ensures units have proper operations space. Onward movement encompasses being able to leave the installation to get work done. Finally there is integration, which includes integration between service agencies.

Predictions placed the 1500-mile wide storm as making landfall anywhere between North Carolina and Maine. As the storm neared, and it became evident to EM that it would enter near southern New Jersey, getting information out to the base populace became a top priority, said Robertson.

Hurricane conditions, or HURCONS, were one way to keep service members and families informed. HURCONs include a four-stage warning system that alerts base personnel to the expected timeframe and wind conditions of an approaching storm. HURCON IV was declared Oct. 26, denoting a hurricane 72 hours away with 58 mph winds. The HURCONs escalated each day until HURCON I, 58 mph sustained winds 12 hours prior to landfall, was declared Oct. 29.

Hurricane Sandy officially made landfall at around 8 p.m. Oct. 29 just south of Atlantic City, N.J.

Members of the EOC's ride out team worked throughout the night while the storm raged on.

"Once the storm is on us the ride out team stays on the base so that they can be the first ones to go out and do damage assessments and reinstate command and control," said Robertson. "The EOC were constantly monitoring the storm for tornadic activity. We also tracked downed power lines, blocked roads, down trees and found alternate routes for emergency vehicles."

Cleanup begins

Damage assessment teams were sent out at first light to ascertain Sandy affect on JB MDL Oct. 30.

The wind and rain combined to down trees and power lines and caused structural damage and flooding. The estimated damage to the base was $8.2 million as of Nov. 26, said Capt. Samuel Jun, 87th Comptroller Squadron Financial Management Analysis and Liaison Flight commander.

Office buildings and residences on Dix were hit with power outages throughout the base, but Jersey Central Power & Light worked quickly to restore power because they knew the joint base would be used as a hub for relief workers, said Robertson.

Col. John Wood, JB MDL commander, designated the base be for mission-essential personnel only during both the hurricane and the cleanup activities, but by Oct. 31, the base returned to normal reporting status.

The 87th Security Forces Squadron and 87th CES personnel assessed base damage while also continuing to maintain their normal mission.

Members of the 87th CES worked to address the damaged power lines and structural issues caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Damage assessments were prevalent throughout New York and New Jersey regions and other states on the East Coast. Cities and towns throughout the Northeast needed help recovering from the storm.

Multiple agencies from throughout the country continued flowing into the joint base in response to the hurricane.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collaborated with FEMA to provide generators to areas without power.

Maryland Urban Search and Rescue Task Force members arrived here and worked with the Georgia Army National Guard to conduct house-to-house searches in Staten Island, N.Y. The Task Force was one part of the National Search and Rescue Task Force relief effort.

One of Sandy's side effects was a fuel shortage throughout the region. Hours-long lines were becoming normal, prompting President Obama to take action.

The president ordered the Defense Logistics Agency to purchase of 22 million gallons of fuel for distribution throughout areas impacted by the storm Nov. 2. The fuel order included 10 million gallons of diesel and 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel, according to FEMA.

JB MDL provided thousands of gallons of fuel to multiple units, which were delivered throughout the region.

The 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight assisted filling Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks from the 710th Brigade Support Battalion with fuel. The 99th RSC also worked with the 353rd Civil Affairs Command to provide fuel to a number of areas hit by the storm.

The 401st, 410th and 431st Quartermaster Teams worked with the 99th RSC to get them mission-essential items such as wastewater pumps, military vehicles, tents, heaters, generators, cold- and wet-weather gear and rations. The teams, made up of about 25 soldiers each, operated 600 gallon-per-minute water pumps as part of the USACE's Task Force Pump. Active-duty, reserve and guard units made up the task force.

While many of the 99th RSC's 350 Army Reserve facilities in its 13-state area of responsibility were threatened by Hurricane Sandy, their position allowed them to offer much-needed assistance to local communities from Maine down to Virginia.

The Army wasn't the only branch offering relief to the surrounding areas. The Seabees, from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-21 on Lakehurst, provided support to 55 Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-11 air detachment Sailors, from Gulfport, Miss. The mission of NMCB-11 was to return normalcy to the joint base area and the surrounding shore communities.

The Seabees worked to help pump water and remove derelict vehicles from throughout the Jersey shore region.

The Seabees were part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Adaptive Force Package, which included New York and New Jersey assets such as Seabees, divers and Coastal Riverine Forces. The assets came at the request of state and federal agencies for immediate response following Hurricane Sandy.

Marine Air Group 49 Marines were also ready to provide post-Sandy support if necessary. A group of nearly 150 Marines from MAG 49 formed Task Force 49 and were placed on stand by in the event they would need to conduct defense support of civil authorities in New Jersey. The guard didn't request the Marines' capabilities for relief efforts.

"MAG-49 was fully poised to 'move to the sound of chaos,'" said Col. Raymond Descheneaux, MAG-49 deputy commander, in MAG-49's monthly newsletter. "Know that our most senior leaders had the utmost confidence in Col. Tobin and our commander's abilities to excel within the chaotic environment."

Members of the Atlantic Strike Team provided support in a number of different areas that focused on their specialties.

Fourteen AST members joined the National Strike Force to provide pollution response to the region. The NSF worked alongside numerous other agencies and conducted wide-area hazard assessments over 1,245 miles of shoreline, pollution mitigation at 28 heavily impacted marinas and acted as federal on-scene coordinators for 3 oil spills.

The National Strike Force also worked to discharge 30,608,400 gallons of water from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel during more than 118.5 hours of pump time in support of the Task Force Pump.

Comprehensive mutual aide agreements between Burlington and Ocean counties sped up recovery efforts allowing the joint base to more easily and quickly send resources.

"It allowed us to send fire resources to the shore and help rescue and relief efforts," said Robertson. "It's a legal authority for us to be able to help the county with requests immediately, instead of having to wait for a tasking. We were able to send resources from the base as long as it didn't degrade our mission."

JB MDL's professional organizations also provided relief support. Organizations such as the First Sergeants' Council, Top 3, 5/6 Club, Air Force Sergeants Association and others collaborated to ensure the joint base's humanitarian relief efforts would able to support local communities most impacted by Sandy.

A team of 24 Airmen, made up of volunteers from the 305th Air Mobility Wing and the base Honor Guard, teamed up with more than 30 community volunteers to collect and distribute supplies to Monmouth County residents impacted by Sandy at Thompson Park in Lincroft, N.J.

The 305th and 514th Air Mobility wings evacuated aircraft returned safely while the wing's members coordinated shipments of vehicles and supplies from throughout the country.

Shipments included the delivery of thousands of blankets from Travis AFB, Calif.; line trucks from Fairchild AFB, Wa.; and utility trucks from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

The 305th APS handled 37 Hurricane Sandy Relief missions comprised 947 short tons of cargo and 350 passengers.
The RCC received a continuous influx of personnel during the Hurricane Relief efforts. More than 104 different organizations arrived here to stage before, during and after Sandy. Some organizations included the U.S. Forest Service, state troopers, members of the Department of Energy, the U.S. Border Patrol and the New Jersey State Police among others.

Snow was also an obstacle for the RCC as a nor'easter, known as "Winter Storm Athena," headed towards the area.

The winter storm hit the Northeast Nov. 7 with the potential to hinder relief efforts but the 87th CES Snow Control team worked with plows and blowers to ensure the base's mission carried on. Leadership requested "tier 1" Airmen, the largest tier, reported to snow control for 12-hour shifts which comprised plowing, shoveling and readying equipment.

Winding down

Units started to redeploy back to their home stations as the weeks wore on and the areas Sandy affected began to normalize.

The RCC assisted departing units with the redeployment process.

The 710th Brigade Support Battalion convoyed from the Contingency Operating Location here Nov. 19. The 710th BSB assisted in the delivery of thousands of gallons of fuel throughout the area from Nov. 5 to 12 and redeployed back to Fort Drum, N.Y.

The U.S. Forest Service Operating Center closed down relief operations here Nov. 14. The Forest Service helped with the removal of downed trees.

The 305th APS helped in the redeployment of line and utility trucks using their Deployable Automated Cargo Measurement System to measure and weigh cargo before loading it on to C17s Globemaster III, C5 Galaxies and commercial carriers.

The RCC closed down Nov. 20, after the post-Sandy draw down was complete. EM will continue to work closely with FEMA on the ISB functions until commodities are no longer required.

"FEMA is still supporting a large part of New Jersey and New York," said Robertson. "We will be assisting them until they leave."

Robertson said he attributed the overall success in how the base handled Sandy to the work done early on.

"The contacts that were made and the planning that was done prior to this storm really paid dividends because it meant we weren't meeting folks for the first time during the crisis," he said. "In the long run it made it really easy to deal with something that hadn't been done here in a really, really long time, if at all. It was really heartwarming to see all the folks who came together prestrike and post storm."

Robertson expressed preparation as the key to success.

"I can't express enough the importance of preparation," Robertson added. "You always have to be ready for that sunny Tuesday. Everything happens on a sunny Tuesday."

Hurricane Sandy Statistics

Reception Control Center
- Received 5386 people
o Title 10 - 1972
o Non-Title 10 - 3414
- Received 956 vehicles
o Title 10 - 163 Vehicles
o Non-title 10 - 758 Vehicles
o Special vehicles 35
- Between Oct. 28 and Nov. 15
o Used 2.1 million gallons of jet fuel, JP-8
o Used 66,308 gallons of diesel fuel diesel
o Used 45,600 gallons of unleaded
- Received approximately 50 airlift missions
- Received 165.4 short tons of cargo
- Processed 104 units
Commodities shipped through FEMA's ISB to date:
- 5.6 million liters of water
- 5.3 million meals
- 11,000 cots
- 48 generators
- 60 infant and toddler kits
- 137,000 blankets
305th Maintenance Group
- 305th Aerial Port Squadron
o Performed at 216 percent workload capacity
o Handled 37 relief missions comprised of 947 short tons of cargo and 350 passengers
- 305th Operations Support Squadron
o Recovered nine C-17s, 13 KC-10s and launched five Civil Air Patrol aircraft activities with the New Jersey Air National Guard
621st Contingency Response Wing
- The 621st CRW deployed 149 members to five locations for approximately two weeks, some longer, and helped move 1043.6 short tons of cargo and 89 passengers.
National Strike Force
- Mobilized 33 personnel (including 6 from Atlantic Strike Team)
- Utilized 16 2,000 gallon-per-minute pumps (from all three strike teams) completely draining all water from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
- Discharged 30,608,400 gallons in 118.5 hours of pump time in support of Task Force Pump.
- Conducted wide-area hazard assessments over 1245 miles of shoreline
- Provided pollution mitigation at 28 heavily-impacted marinas
- Acted as Federal On-Scene Coordinators for 3 oil spills

 Total Damage
- $8.2 million
o Facility damage - $5.866 million
o Non-facility damage (roads, trees, wires) - $2.4 million
- About 300 downed trees
- One hundred and fifteen facilities damaged
Hurricane Sandy Timeline
Oct. 22 - Tropical Storm Sandy develops in the Caribbean Sea.
Oct. 23 - Emergency Management provides its first update to 87th Mission Support Group leadership.

Oct. 24 - Tropical Storm Sandy intensifies into a Hurricane and makes landfall in Kingston, Jamaica.

Oct. 25 - Sandy becomes a Category 2 storm and hits Cuba.

Oct. 26 - The Emergency Operations Center and Crisis Action Team stand up.
After weakening to Category 1, the storm barrels through the Bahamas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency arrives at Lakehurst.
The Installation Support Base stands up.
Hurricane Condition IV is declared

Oct. 27 - The 305th Air Mobility and 621st Contingency Response wings begin preparing cargo and aircraft for evacuation.
305th Aerial Port Squadron prepares 20 aircraft for departure.
Six KC-135s are delivered to McConnell Air Force Base.
HURCON III is declared.

Oct. 28 - 621st CRW moves 65 personnel to MacDill AFB
The 108th Wing activates approximately 150 guardsmen.
C-17 Globemaster IIIs evacuated to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., while KC-10 Extenders go to Grand Forks AFB, N.D.
More than 300 recruits and 30 staff from the Coast Guard's Training Center Cape May arrive here.
HURCON II is declared.
The Resource Control Center stands up.

Oct. 29 - HURCON I is declared.
Hurricane Sandy makes landfall near Atlantic City bringing winds of 90 mph.

Oct. 30 - Mission-essential personnel leave shelter, conduct damage assessment and begin cleanup operations.

Oct. 31 - Sandy dissipates as it progresses northward.
JB MDL returns to normal operating status.
A mass foreign object damage walk is conducted.
C17s and KC-10s return here.
Recruits from the Training Center Cape May return.

Nov. 2 - President Obama orders the Defense Logistics Agency to purchase of 22 million gallons of fuel for the affected regions.

Nov. 3 - National Urban Search and Rescue operations begin.

Nov. 7 - A nor'easter blankets the northeast with three to six inches of snow.

Nov. 9 - The EOC and CAT stand down.
The RCC moves back to the 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron building to continue operations.

Nov. 13 - 710th Brigade Support Battalion returns back to Fort Drum, N.Y.

Nov. 14 - The U.S. Forest Service departs JB MDL

Nov. 19 - Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ) visits JB MDL to tour staging operations for forces assisting in the Hurricane Sandy recovery of the New Jersey coast and New York City metro area.

Nov. 20 - The RCC stands down.

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