Riding out the storm
Cindy Howell, Fort Rucker Weather Operations' assistant site manager at Cairns, displays a map of a hurricane's projected path. The weather station at Cairns provides post officials with data throughout a storm event.

FORT RUCKER, Ala.--While human activity outside may be at a minimum during a hurricane here, the Installation Operations Center (IOC) staff works feverishly throughout the storm to make sure every person stays safe and property suffers minimal damage.

IOC Emergency Operations Officer Maj. Michael Hughes said about 25 people, Fort Rucker's Crisis Management Team (CMT) members and IOC staff, gather in one conference room to track the storm and manage the installation, monitoring road, housing and building damage and emergency situations.

Hughes said the teams also monitor several different TV broadcasts to get the best available radar picture of the storm covering the area. Information is also transmitted to IOC from Cairns Army Airfield's weather station.

Cindy Howell, Fort Rucker Weather Operations' assistant site manager at Cairns, said those at the weather station take data from the National Hurricane Center and translate what the forecast data may mean for people and buildings here. This data includes an hour-by-hour precipitation and winds chart.

People are not only stationed at Cairns' weather station and the IOC during the storm. Some Directorate of Public Safety (DPS) emergency responders are also on hand in case someone needs help.

During an emergency, a crucial road may be blocked by debris. That is when the Directorate of Public Works' (DPW) ride-out team springs into action.

DPW Director Ed Janasky said people, mostly Shaw contractors, familiar with chain saws are the ones on call. Janasky urges those on post to report blocked roads during bad weather.
Janasky emphasized safety is a top priority during a hurricane. "The only thing we're using this team for is to move stuff out of the way for emergency purposes," he said.

Hughes said residents can take several precautions that will limit emergency situations and keep everyone safe. One of the first steps is to stay informed, Hughes said. IOC staff and CMT associates continue to provide information through many different sources, including AM 1640, command information television Channel 6, mass e-mail, mass-call telephone groups and computer notification systems.

Power or cable may go out during a storm, which is why the IOC recommends Families have a battery-operated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) weather radio available. Hughes added residents may not hear warning sirens because of high winds, another reason to have a NOAA weather radio.

Hughes said people should not go outside during a storm and should stay away from windows and doors. People should call DPS at 911 or 255-2222 in case of an emergency. For more tips on what to do in a storm, visit www.rucker.army.mil and click on the Ready Army link.

Page last updated Mon June 29th, 2009 at 10:53