AFCEC leads hurricane season preparedness

With a projected record-setting hurricane season in the making, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center‘s Readiness Directorate is once again urging the Air Force community to “be ready” for natural disasters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, could include 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes – six of which are likely to be classified as major hurricanes.

The Air Force Be Ready awareness campaign AFCEC launched in July 2011, which eventually led to the Air Force Be Ready mobile app, has been lauded by the Air Force community for its in-depth preparation guides and wide variety of critical information. The app features emergency phone numbers, websites, a storm preparation checklist, potential storm threats, a customizable family plan and basic preparation recommendations.

It’s an all-in-one survival tool, developed with input from Air Force members who use the information to protect their homes, families and lives, said Rob Genova, AFCEC emergency management operations support manager.

“We are pleased with the overall feedback we continuously receive from Air Force members and even other services,” Genova said. “Our Emergency Management Division’s education and training section is constantly looking at new ways to effectively communicate emergency preparedness and to provide quality products to our installations and surrounding communities to be ready.”

Hurricane Michael showed the Air Force is good at preparing, Genova said. Installations with hurricanes and typhoons as an identified hazard have well-prepared installation emergency management plans. Even with the unpredictability that Hurricane Michael presented, those installations were able to prepare quickly for the storm’s impending arrival.

For example, the 325th Fighter Wing leadership at Tyndall Air Force Base followed emergency plans and evacuated 11,000 people in 48 hours to two neighboring installations further inland well before the eye of the storm arrived.

Nearly two years removed from the third-largest storm to ever hit the continental United States, AFCEC members at Tyndall AFB can attest that focusing on readiness in the event of a tropical storm and worse, a hurricane and its aftermath, is extremely critical.

“The Air Force does a very good job of preparing for events, but where we need to put more focus on is ‘What does an Airman do in the days after a catastrophic event?'” said Mike Connors, AFCEC Emergency Management Division chief. “Many of us had no idea what our homeowners policies said or what the different types of coverages meant. What is the difference between a field adjuster and a desk adjuster? Should you get a lawyer or a public adjuster? Those are just some of the examples of what we’ll be putting into a new publication in the near future.”

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