JACKSONVILLE, Fla (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is up and running and making preparations for whatever Hurricane Matthew has in store. The current Category 4 storm has the region's southern most major facility, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in its sights and is projected to make landfall sometime today.
EOC preparations were well under way Oct. 1 as the storm track became clearer.
"We set up the EOC Monday, Oct. 3, to track the storm, coordinate our response and facilitate answering requests for information from leaders, stakeholders and higher headquarters," said NAVFAC Southeast Contingency Engineer (CE) Program Manager Don Maconi.
NAVFAC Southeast has an Emergency Management Plan and it is Maconi's responsibility to execute that plan for the Command as the CE. The Operations Office along with Maconi is responsible to ensure that the EOC runs efficiently and effectively. He is responsible for identifying and providing adequate training for the EOC staff; manning and staffing the EOC; and overseeing the overall operation of the EOC while it is up and running.
"Once the EOC is up and running there is a Watch Officer(s) who runs the center until the decision is made to stand down the EOC," continued Maconi. "The EOC stays up and running until all of our NAVFAC Southeast personnel and assets come home. We then reconstitute our equipment and materials, prepare after-action reports and return to standby mode and wait for our next contingency."
NAVFAC Southeast is also preparing to get CERTs (Contingency Engineering Response Teams) out the door, deployed to various locations to begin the damage assessment process and then the recovery efforts.
"It is a big task to get a CERT team ready to deploy," said NAVFAC Southeast Production Officer and Disaster Preparedness Officer Lt. Cmdr. Craig Peck. "We begin preparations well in advance to ensure that everything is ready to go. At the beginning of the Hurricane Season which starts in June each year we review our policy and start the process so that when a storm hits, we have everything ready and can make that final check as we get everyone ready to deploy."
Each CERT team member must be trained, have the technical competencies, be equipped, and ready to deploy at a moment's notice. "We are making final preparations today and will be ready to head out as soon as Hurricane Matthew passes through the caribbean," said Peck.
Naval Station Guantanamo Bay expects winds above 60 mph for several hours as Hurricane Matthew passes. NAVFAC Southeast is just one player in the team that is working with Navy Region Southeast to provide support and recovery efforts following the storm.
"We are working closely with U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Fleet Forces, Navy Installations Command, NAVFAC Atlantic and Navy Region Southeast to provide emergency response and facilities support as requested by the region. Our team is ready to deploy and support the base in Guantanamo Bay," said Maconi.
As Hurricane Matthew moves north, many other Navy installations may be in its path and the team will be ready to assist as needed throughout the Southeastern United States as they have in the past with storms such as Hurricanes Isaac and Katrina. The team has also deployed to assist with humanitarian efforts such as the Tsunami or the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
NAVFAC plans, designs and manages construction for the Navy. The Jacksonville office (NAVFAC Southeast) manages operations on Navy installations from Charleston, S.C. to Corpus Christi, Texas and south to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. NAVFAC professionals also acquire and dispose of real estate, manage and maintain the facilities on all naval bases, and provide housing for military families. NAVFAC Southeast Public Works Departments provide facilities support services to each installation in our area of responsibility. Every day presents new and different challenges for the professionals of the Command. From planning a new full-service hospital to the construction of a state-of-the-art hangar facility, members of the Command make significant contributions to the Navy.