Fort Belvoir residents can take comfort in knowing they have a shelter on post to go to in case of a severe weather event in the National Capital Region.
Specker Field House has been designated by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation as the on-post shelter Soldiers and Family members should go to if they need lodging during a severe weather situation. Just last month, DFMWR personnel walked through the facility with a disaster shelter expert from the American Red Cross to assess how to meet the needs of occupants if a shelter were opened.
"We have capabilities for 250 cots at Specker Field House," said Jim Burnett, DFMWR general supply specialist. "We have 35 people who have been through the training course the Red Cross offers in sheltering. It's a day-long course that teaches the basics in opening and closing a shelter, how to make sure people stay entertained and happy."
If Specker were ever needed, it would primarily be for Fort Belvoir residents and their Families, said Burnett. However, depending on the time of day the shelter is needed, Department of Defense civilians and non-government civilians on post could potentially use the shelter.
"If it was during the day, it's possible that we would open it up for DoD civilians and non-government civilians to lodge for a night or two if that's how much time they needed," said Burnett. "But, it's set up mainly to handle Soldiers and Soldiers' Families on post."
Normally in a disaster situation, more than 90 percent of people affected by the disaster are going to find lodging off post, whether it's at a hotel or with friends or Family in the area, according to Marin Reynes, Fort Belvoir American Red Cross, station manager.
"Shelters are typically for people who don't have the means for any of those options," said Reynes.
Reynes has a tip residents and employees on the installation need to remember to combat a disaster situation.
"We encourage people to be prepared beforehand so they don't have to go to a shelter," said Reynes. "So, know how to build a kit, how to make a plan and how to be informed."
An evacuation kit should include one gallon of water per person per day for three days, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food items, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries and a first-aid kit.
Families should identify responsibilities for one another and plan to work together as a team, and also plan how they would respond to a disaster situation if a member of the Family is deployed.
Red Cross mobile applications are also available for iPhones and Androids, according Reynes.
Belvoir residents can go to the website at to find out how to acquire the application.
The application links to the National Shelter System and informs people of shelter locations off post.
"(Applications) will list the population limit for the shelter and how many more people they can take in," said Reynes. "The app will list the shelter's capabilities, contain information on preparedness, how to build a kit, and the application sends out weather warnings as well."
It is important residents understand the shelter is a last resort in a disaster situation, according to Burnett.
"A shelter is generally the last option," said Burnett. "It's a combination of folks at the Directorate of Emergency Services and Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. Ultimately, the garrison commander takes all the information provided to him by those organizations and makes a final decision."

Page last updated Wed May 22nd, 2013 at 14:30