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News | Feb. 6, 2017

DLA Distribution teams help site five states away rebuild from tornado

By Dawn Bonsell DLA Distribution Public Affairs

After a severe tornado ravaged Albany, Georgia, teams from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution arrived to provide services, supplies and expertise — helping the local DLA distribution center get up and running in less than two weeks.

The Jan. 22 tornado, rated 3 on the common five-point severity scale, was on the ground less than an hour but tore a 71-mile path through five Georgia counties.

One of those is Dougherty County, where DLA Distribution Albany, Georgia provides storage and distribution for Marine Corps Logistics Command. The cost to repair the damage at DDAG will be $38-40 million, not including damage to equipment and the fiber-optic network. 

The foremost concern of the DLA Distribution leadership was the safety and well-being of all 170 employees and their families. DDAG Director Rita Varner ordered an accountability review, which found that all employees and families were accounted for, with no serious injuries. And although many homes had major damage, only one was a total loss.

A crew of DDAG employees was on site in 24 hours to help with cleanup. They found a dramatically different landscape: The grove of pecan trees near the entrance was gone, and many other trees had fallen or been badly damaged. Six DLA Distribution buildings had severe damage.

Working with no lights, no heat, and debris everywhere, the employees rallied to get the job done. They worked long hours but pushed through and made the best of the situation — hosting an impromptu barbeque to lift everyone’s spirits.

“This team has been extremely resilient,” Varner said. “They’re tired, but they keep moving, and everyone is helping out.”

Arriving in the following days were a DLA Advanced Echelon Team and a DLA Distribution Expeditionary Team from New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. The ADVON teams assessed damaged buildings, stock, equipment and systems. The DDXX team brought truckloads of equipment including the mobile command trailer, a heavy-duty commercial truck, a yard truck, forklifts, generators, a rough terrain vehicle, and front-end loaders.

Teams from DLA Information Operations brought the mobile emergency response center, a mobile command vehicle and a distribution operations center. The operations center was used to establish a tactical network and communications, including the Distribution Standard System. DSS manages all of DLA’s warehouse operations, including receiving, storage, consolidation, packing, shipping, inventory, inspection and workload management.  

Despite these achievements, DDAG still lacked power to any buildings. DLA Troop Support came to the rescue, providing generators. The DDAG warehouses are now all operating on local, satellite and wireless support systems. 

All DLA Distribution employees reported to work on Monday, Jan. 30. DDAG is meeting 100 percent of requirements from its largest customer on base, Marine Corps Logistics Command, which also suffered widespread damage.

However, DDAG started receiving trucks Feb. 4 and has returned to full operation.