News: MCAS dodges storm bullet
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
Hurricane Earl was the opening act for this year’s hurricane season, and although the air station dodged the bullet of serious destructive weather, Marines at Cherry Point took all precautions to ensure the air station stayed in a safe state.
The strength of Hurricane Earl fluctuated between categories 3 and 4 as it brushed the coastline of eastern North Carolina Sept. 2, with sustained winds blowing more than 100 mph, according to The Weather Channel’s website. Cherry Point is about 20 miles from the Atlantic coastline.
Cherry Point has been in destructive weather condition V since May 24, when the air station conducted its first hurricane drill of the year under the threat of the fictional “Hurricane Gibs.” Condition V is normally maintained throughout the official hurricane season dates of June 1 to Nov. 30.
Earl’s late August approach resulted in increased readiness by all commands on the air station. Although the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing took its normal steps of securing equipment and aircraft, the storm’s proximity allowed the wing to continue normal flight operations and training, as well as the continued support of community relations events at distant locations. The Fleet Readiness Center East canceled two late shifts during the height of the storm’s effects on Cherry Point but, like the air station, resumed operations on Friday.
Despite Earl’s near-miss of Cherry Point, it did serve to remind people here of the dangers posed by tropical storms and the need to be prepared. It also tested the air station’s emergency operations plan and its system for getting the word out to military and civilian employees.
The air station uses a number of tools to reach out to personnel here. Though most military members get word through their chain of command, Cherry Point also uses various media sources, including the command information line (466-3093), the Cherry Point website (http://www.marines.mil/unit/mcascherrypoint), Cherry Point TV-6, the official Cherry Point Facebook site, all-hands e-mail, and local civilian television and radio stations. These are updated when destructive weather conditions officially change and when work schedules are adjusted.
According to Maj. Will Klumpp, director of the Joint Public Affairs Office here, the two easiest sources to reach for instant information are the command information line and the website.
“Any of these tools could be negatively affected by weather, but so far we have been successful in maintaining our ability to update them as necessary, even during previous, more severe storms,” said Klumpp.
“We hope Hurricane Earl will remind personnel here of the potential dangers of severe tropical storms and hurricanes,” Klumpp said. “Appropriate preparation and exercising extreme caution during the course of a storm are the best ways to survive these potentially catastrophic events.”
For additional information on hurricane preparation, an abundance of information is available on the web, including a link on the Cherry Point website under emergency services.