ACC Airmen prepare for Hurricane Irene
National Hurricane Center officials issued a number of advisories for the East Coast Aug. 25 in preparation for Hurricane Irene.
Airmen, civilian personnel and their families at Air Combat Command units and installations near the projected path of a hurricane should take steps to adequately prepare, said the Air Combat Command emergency management functional manager.
"You want to make sure you have a stockpile of supplies readily available at your home that can be used to sustain you for approximately three days," said Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Hatcher.
A good starting point for resources and information is www.ready.gov, where visitors can see specific details on planning, building emergency kits and staying informed, he said.
An evacuation plan is equally important.
"Identify your evacuation routes, know where you are headed and make sure your leadership knows how to reach you," the chief said.
Air Force personnel should update their information in the Air Force Personnel Accountability and Assessment System, which is accessible through the Air Force Portal. If no computer is available, members can call the Air Force Personnel Readiness Cell at 800-435-9941.
"That will ensure that after a catastrophic event, leadership will be able to identify where personnel are located and find out what it takes to support them in any recovery efforts," the chief said.
Accountability begins at the unit level, though, he said.
"Unit recall rosters are critical to being prepared for any type of all-hazards environment, and hurricanes are no different," Hatcher said. "For unit leadership, it's a key component to their ability to effectively and efficiently disseminate information and ensure all personnel have been contacted and notified of critical information."
Units can prepare for adverse weather by reviewing their continuity of operations plan and other applicable regulations, including the installation's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan 10-2, which outlines specific actions that need to occur during different phases of a hurricane, he said.
"Robust planning is a basic military necessity," said Lt. Gen. William Rew, the Air Combat Command vice commander, following a recent continuity of operations exercise. "No one expected the events of 9/11 to happen; no one expected in Japan an earthquake and a tsunami."
Airmen should also ensure their family members are aware of the who, what, when, where and how actions prescribed in the CEMP 10-2 and supporting checklists, according to Air Force Emergency Management's Ready.gov page.
When it comes to protection of resources, data backup and other measures should be considered so personnel can resume operations as soon as possible following a hurricane, no matter the damage, officials said.
Hurricanes pose several different types of hazards, Hatcher said.
"Making sure that you are familiar with your location in relationship to flood zones is important," the chief said. "When a hurricane coincides with a high tide, it will obviously impact the severity of a storm surge."
Rip currents may affect waters as far as 1,000 miles from the storm.
"Personnel should avoid entering the water, even days prior to a hurricane making landfall in their area," he said. Inland, hurricanes can produce tornados, even after they have lost much of their strength.
For more information on hurricanes and disaster preparedness, visit www.ready.gov or http://www.acc.af.mil/library/hurricaneinformation.asp.
Article by Scott Knuteson, Air Combat Command Public Affairs