Emergency agencies wind down base work|
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
5/26/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al -- One month after deadly tornadoes ravaged northern Alabama, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency began demobilization from the incident support base set up at Maxwell Air Force Base.
A small crew from FEMA is still on site until various trucking companies pick up empty supply trailers, according Teri Baker, the base liaison to civil authorities.
Maxwell acted as a staging area for supplies after the president declared the counties affected by the tornadoes a federal disaster area. FEMA support is authorized until May 30.
"When a disaster hits, the county enters the support requirements into the state database established for disasters," said Mrs. Baker. "Based upon the number of personnel in the county, is power on, etc., they request the state supply generators, water, ice, (meals ready to eat), tarps, baby items and personal items."
Since the state cannot handle such a large need for commodities, the request was passed on to FEMA. Once FEMA processed the request, the lead team arrived at the staging area and began requesting commodities to be delivered to the staging area.
"FEMA tracks all commodities that arrive, what goes to the state for distribution (per county EMA requests) and takes care of the empty trailers that return," Mrs. Baker said. "This time, FEMA also contracted with several companies to provide 100 'shuttle' drivers to take the commodities to the counties. Once the shipments have met the county requests, the demobilization begins."
The staging area received and distributed 340 tractor-trailer loads of commodities to various disaster areas around the state. According to Mrs. Baker, this included 107 generators, 1,072,512 MRE's, 100,000 tarps, 3,840,000 pounds of ice and 633,600 gallons of water and other necessities.
The relief provided by state and federal agencies is critical to victims of these storms, she said, as careful planning allowed Maxwell to serve these agencies when disaster strikes.
A quick response can make all the difference, Mrs. Baker noted.
"The folks in affected areas don't know what is going on around them-no cell phones, no power, no running water and the entire landscape is unrecognizable," she said. "When the victims receive their first bottle of water, the first bite of an item from the MRE, a cot to lay their head on; that is when the recovery begins."
In addition to the plethora of donation drives throughout the region, the Maxwell-Gunter Company Grade Officers Council and Top 3 are gathering items for tornado survivors via drop boxes. Items needed include sports drinks, baby items such as food, formula, diapers and wipes, canned food with easy-open lids, large plastic containers with lids, snacks, blankets, power bars, coolers, hand sanitizer, diapers, wipes, personal hygiene items, as well as outdoor items such as tents, grills, air mattresses, shovels, rakes, work gloves, hammers, new pillows, blankets and camping stoves.
Those who wish to donate large items or need more information can contact Capt. Edgar A. Alonso-Bernal at 953-2047.