Fort Belvoir, Va. –
The Defense Logistics Agency kicked off National Preparedness Month with a ceremony and expo at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Sept. 7.
This marks the 11th year DLA has participated in National Preparedness Month, which was established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2004, said DLA Chief of Staff Eric Smith, who hosted the event.
The 2022 theme is “A Lasting Legacy,” with the message that, “the life you’ve built is worth protecting. Prepare for disasters to create a lasting legacy for you and your family.”
DLA began ramping up its support to FEMA and other government agencies after hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, Smith said.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, with most activity occurring from Labor Day through the end of October. DLA works year-round with FEMA and other government partners to develop plans and procedures to ensure a fast response for the next major event, Smith said.
“We have learned early on that preparation was key because it was only a matter of time before disasters like hurricanes, forest fires, floods or tornadoes would strike again,” Smith said. “The crisis preparation we’ve done together with other key partners at the federal, state and local level has formed lasting bonds and quickened our response and saved lives.”
Jeffrey Dorko, the acting deputy associate administrator for FEMA’s Office of Response and Recovery, highlighted his agency’s long and productive history with DLA.
“We have an incredible relationship together,” Dorko said. “The nation’s disaster response mission – we can’t do that mission without you. You are an equal and full member of this team. The nation needs you, and you have delivered in the past, and I have no doubt that you’ll deliver in the future.”
Dorko recalled the 2017 hurricane season when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Hurricane Irma struck the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico. When FEMA’s warehouses emptied, the agency worked with DLA to secure millions of items including fuel, thousands of generators and more than 80 million meals.
“The scope and scale of this and the complexity that was scattered from Texas all the way into the Caribbean made this really, really, really hard,” he said. “I don’t know what we would have done without the DDXX [the DLA Distribution Expeditionary team]… They did critical things for us that we just did not have the capacity to do at the time.”
Dorko also lauded DLA’s work with FEMA following Super Typhoon Yutu, which hit the Mariana Islands of Tinian and Saipan in October 2018. DLA provided lumber, roofing materials, tents, power poles and modular structures, and helped restore power so businesses and schools could reopen.
“In this business, when the power is on, 90% of your problem is solved,” Dorko said. “We were able to jointly do that together.”
FEMA and DLA need to continue preparing for upcoming disasters, and climate change is directing the agencies’ course, he said.
“Again, we can’t do this without you,” Dorko said. “We owe the nation, the two of us locked in arms together.”
In honor of National Preparedness Month, Smith reminded the workforce to have a plan in case something catastrophic happens at home.
“Those are just the small things you need to do for preparedness, but we need to prepare for all types of emergencies,” he said.
Being prepared also was the focus of the National Preparedness Month expo. Representatives from within DLA, McNamara Complex Antiterrorism, the Fort Belvoir Fire Department, Red Cross, D.C. Community Emergency Response Team, Loudon County Emergency Management and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital displayed tables with information about staying safe.
The expo was valuable because it helped employees establish contacts and resources who can help in an emergency, said Justin Weaver, the fire marshal for the Fort Belvoir Fire Department.
National Preparedness Month takes place every September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that can happen at any time, according to the Ready.gov preparedness website.
This year’s ceremony is available to watch online.