JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) has been an essential tool for mustering and documenting needs during the recent hurricane evacuations in the Southeast region.
More than 30,000 Sailors, civilian employees and families mustered to confirm their status during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to Kandi Debus, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) Family Readiness Emergency Management Coordinator.
"Mustering in NFAAS is important because it is people who are taking the time to assess their own situation and let us know they are safe," said Debus. "Submitting an NFAAS needs assessment tells us 'I need help with a specific situation'."
Debus and her team of 11 counselors responded to 440 cases in five days during and after Hurricane Irma. They are continuing to receive needs assessments and are working hard to reach out to those families.
NFAAS is a web-based, Navy-wide tool that assists the needs of personnel through data collection and reporting/reference material and prioritizes the needs of each case based on disaster impact and recovery. The system allows families to assess 19 categories, including: medical, missing family locator, transportation, housing and personal property, financial, employment, child care, education, legal services, counseling, as well as mortuary and funeral assistance.
NFAAS is designed for a maximum emergency case management reply time of 72 hours, but Debus said most cases are being worked in three to four hours.
"The reports are coming in the system, and we're just grabbing them. I was calling cases yesterday where the folks said, 'I just hit 'send' five minutes ago'," she said. "The communication flow has just been phenomenal."
The only confusion came from personnel who filled out the needs assessment for needs they didn't have yet.
"Ideally, you'd want personnel to wait until the event occurs, they get back from safe haven and then conduct a needs assessment," said Debus. "The needs that make sense before and during the event are: missing family, help with evacuation, financial assistance and medical assistance. The other issues are long-term or post-event issues."
The case management team includes counselors from Fleet and Family Service Centers throughout the Southeast Region, from as far away as South Carolina and Texas. Many of the initial needs assessments focused on financial assistance and locating family members.
"We heard from many people who couldn't reach family members in areas hardest hit by the storms," said Debus. "Working with them to make that connection provides a great feeling of satisfaction, and when we see families starting to return home and gain some sense of normalcy, that is really the long term reward."
As evacuated personnel begin to return to their installations, Emergency Family Assistance Centers (EFAC) will provide direct support. EFAC provides a one-stop location where families are able to directly access financial assistance/guidance, counseling, administrative support, housing assistance, religious support, medical, and Emergency Case Management assistance. As of Sept. 14, Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay EFACs are fully operational.
Additional updates can be found by visiting Navy Region Southeast's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NavyRegionSE.