NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa., Sept. 18, 2018 —
With the news that Hurricane Florence, a predicted Category 4 hurricane, was fast approaching the United States eastern shore, notably North and South Carolina, DLA Distribution team members were prepositioned and fully prepared to assist FEMA and the U.S. Northern Command with recovery efforts.
According to Edward J. Fisher, chief, Distribution Logistics Operation Center, DLA Distribution provides storage and transportation for commodities, and, in this case, expeditionary capability to assist FEMA and DOD with distribution of goods forward in the storm’s affected areas. Distribution supports all of the Department of Defense as well as federal and state governmental organizations.
The DLOC draws together all staff elements and capabilities within DLA Distribution for effective coordination and communication to support DoD and FEMA in the Hurricane Response.
“A main concern for planning and operation during a disaster like this is open communication channels, battle rhythm refinement, and proper manning to maintain 24 hour operations and availability,” said Fisher.
“We strive to find the right balance between meeting frequency and times to allow our personnel time to work on tasks while still maintaining situational awareness. We have a great group of volunteers that we use to augment our DLOC operations to maintain constant availability to the customers and fellow organizations,” Fisher said.
A Hurricane Florence Toolbox
was added to the Distribution website front page providing instructions and checklists for those personnel affected.
“We operate as the coordination point for all crisis and disaster operations between HQ DLA Joint Logistics Operations Center and DLA Distribution, including our distribution centers, along with keeping situational awareness and ensuring Distribution’s Chain of Command is kept updated,” Fisher added.
During the recovery process, the DLOC is in constant communication with the distribution centers – gathering damage assessments, coordinating support to the affected distribution centers, and continue tracking completion well after the disaster has passed.
The DLOC is in constant preparation for Hurricanes and other natural or man-made disasters, having already established contact with liaison officers and MSC colleagues. Their processes are refined throughout the year on smaller crisis situations they may encounter. There is never a finite time to prepare because a weather or other emergency situation can occur at any time. DLOC processes have similar foundations to maintain flexibility and resiliency.
Distribution deployed over 100 military and civilian expeditionary personnel to Incident Support Bases – Fort AP Hill, and Richmond, Virginia, Maxwell Air Force Base and Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, and Warner Robbins, Georgia to assist with hurricane support and recovery efforts.
Distribution Operation and Planning Specialist, John Heikkinen, provided a general list of commodities shipped to ISB Fort AP Hill.
“The bulk of what we receive is meals and bottled water. The other commodities are generators, plastic sheeting, blankets, tarps, infant toddler kits, commonly used shelter items, and consumable and durable medical supplies and equipment.”
“We’re always prepared. Our teams are rapidly deployable to respond to an event like this. The equipment that goes to an ISB mission is pretty much already set. From June on, it’s packed with everything you need to operate an ISB, so we’re very prepared for this type of mission,” said Heikkinen.
Fisher said providing support to those affected residents is a fulfilling aspect of the mission.
“During disasters those affected have enough worries as their lives have been turned upside down, and many cannot return directly back to their homes, being able to assist in providing that support is paramount.”