NORFOLK (NNS) -- As Tropical Storm Karen makes its way northward through the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Navy bases, Sailors, and their families along the Gulf Coast are making preparations for severe weather.
While the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does not anticipate the storm to reach hurricane strength, Cmdr. Douglas Wahl, Oceanographer for U.S. Fleet Forces Command said that personnel are already keeping a close eye on the storm.
"U.S. Fleet Forces staff oceanographers and Battle Watch Commander are tracking Tropical Storm Karen to ensure there are no impacts to CTF-80 units," Cmdr. Wahl said.
As of Friday afternoon, several Navy installations along the Gulf Coast increased readiness although no evacuation orders for personnel or families were expected. Currently, no U.S. Navy ships are underway in the expected area. Most ships are expected to remain in port or stay out of the hazardous area. U.S. Navy installations have also ensured the safe and orderly storage of aircraft and equipment in their respective hangars.
"The primary focus of CNIC installations is safety of personnel in the storm's path and the protection of our nation's war fighting equipment," said Capt. Doug Cochrane, chief of staff, Navy Installations Command. "After storm passage, we will work safely and diligently to restore mission capability and continue to monitor the health and safety of our warfighters, families and friends."
Before an emergency arises, Sailors and their families know where to find additional information. To ensure you are prepared for a storm, go to the Navy's webpage, www.navy.mil, where you and your family can find an emergency preparedness checklist and other information useful in times of emergency.
"We also encourage our Sailors and their families to have a disaster readiness plan in place so they're personally ready for any events of this nature," explained Capt. Jeffrey Griffin, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Maritime Operations Center Division Chief.
There are several websites that help Sailors and their families prepare for emergencies.
"During this time, we highly encourage our Sailors and their families to review their disaster preparedness plans and be ready by visiting http://www.readynavy.navy.mil," Cochrane said.
The U.S. Fleet Forces Command website also provides an excellent resource to help families prepare for emergencies. Their Disaster Preparedness website http://www.public.navy.mil/usff/Pages/disaster_preparedness.aspx provides more information.
If an evacuation order were to be announced, Sailors and their families would be directed to log in to the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) at https://navyfamily.navy.mil. This website provides a standardized method for the Navy to account, manage and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected and/or scattered by a wide-spread catastrophic event. The website also allows families to list any specific needs and requirements during an emergency. Sailors are encouraged to ensure their personal contact information is up to date to ensure the Navy can contact you during an emergency.
Stay tuned to local news channels for the latest information on weather conditions and take direction from your chain of command. Staying informed and prepared is your best defense.