Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support is preparing Puerto Rico for the 2020 hurricane season that starts June 1 with delivery of more than 69,000 humanitarian meals this month.
Early preparation and strong partnerships with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are key to hurricane readiness, said Dorothy O’Connell, whole-of-government representative for DLA Troop Support’s Operations and Plans Directorate.
“I think we’re actually stronger and more prepared this year in spite of the challenges we’ve been facing,” she said.
O’Connell began coordinating in January with DLA Troop Support’s five supply chains – subsistence, clothing and textiles, construction and equipment, medical and industrial hardware – to ensure the organization was ready to meet FEMA requests for hurricane recovery.
Tracking the impact of COVID-19 on industry partners has kept the agency informed of vendors’ ability to support hurricane relief efforts, O’Connell added.
“By reviewing the inputs from supply chains about which vendors have been impacted by COVID-19, we are able to keep our leadership, DLA Headquarters and FEMA abreast of areas at risk should we need to deploy an emergency response team,” she said.
A DLA Headquarters planning team is addressing how to protect military and federal employees from COVID-19 infection during hurricane support deployments. Felix Leon, a logistics program manager from DLA Troop Support who is on the team, said members are analyzing previous scenarios from FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine a holistic approach that also protects employees.
DLA Troop Support employees understand the challenges of competing resources, having supported back-to-back hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, Leon said.
“We look at the possibility of having to support two or more operations at a time,” he added. “The biggest challenge in today’s environment is to ensure that our workforce is protected and safe. We at DLA Troop Support, in coordination with the DLA team, have to ensure that we provide the necessary [personal protective equipment] and sanitation materiel needed [in light of COVID-19].”
For information about hurricane preparation, check out FEMA’s hurricane fact sheet and Ready.gov. For more on DLA’s COVID-19 support, see the DLA COVID-19 news page.