By Sharilyn Wells/ParaglideJanuary 18, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As everyone stayed snuggled up in their beds when Fort Bragg closed for inclement weather and hazardous road conditions Monday and Tuesday, mission essential personnel carefully made their way to post to continue normal operations.
For Scott Boulton, Directorate of Public Works, it was just another work day.
"I had issues getting on post yesterday (Monday) only because some roads were considered impassible," said Boulton, a native of Ohio. "But there really hasn't been any significant incidents except for the roads. This is the type of snow you wish would fall and then melt away the next day."
DPW is responsible for running Fort Bragg - everything from electrical, steam, sewer, and water. If there is an issue with any utilities, DPW works hand in hand with their partners to get the job done.
Partners such as Sandhills Utility Service, Old North, Honeywell, and Progress Energy worked around the clock to ensure Fort Bragg continued to operate even though the majority of military and civilian personnel had the day off.
"It's really a team effort," explained Boulton. "If anything was to go down, we'd be called to fix it. It's a hand in glove sort of relationship."
Along with having crews scraping the roads clear of ice, DPW also ensures salt gets to customers who need it to prevent slipping on sidewalks frozen solid.
Not all servicemembers had the day off, the 307th Engineer Battalion helped with clearing roads, multiple military police vehicles patrolled around Fort Bragg and Womack Army Medical Center Emergency Department remained open both days.
The continuous snow and the late post closure on Monday caused a headache for people who had already headed to work and had to turn around to go home. A busy and chaotic day laid ahead for Curtis Forte, a shift supervisor for the Emergency Services, who manned emergency calls throughout the day. Seventy-one traffic accidents were reported, explained Forte.
"We dealt with a lot of traffic accidents, disabled vehicles, people falling (on snow and ice), and others just calling for general information," he said. "It was chaotic (Monday), but today is much more calm ... no major incidents were reported (yet)."
Raul Valazquez, a security guard with Wackenhut Security Services and a native of New York, also headed to work while others stayed safely at home.
"I don't mind it at all, someone has to watch the gate," said Valazquez. "I've worked in much worse conditions where you had to have chains on your tires, this is nothing."
Most people think mission essential personnel includes the DPW, the guards, police, and doctors. But not many people consider food services to be mission essential and that is what Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Bradley, who works at the 3rd Brigade Combat Team dining facility, Bradley wanted make sure people knew.
The dining facility opened at 6 a.m., but cooks had to come in around 4 a.m. to prepare the food for service. Snow was already falling when Bradley drove to work on Monday and weather conditions only worsened by the freezing of the slush on Tuesday.
By bringing in Soldiers who live in the barracks and on post first to prepare the food, the dining facility was able to make sure all personnel off post were able to safely get to work.
"People forget that we still have to come to work on days like today. We have to come up with a game plan because the Soldiers need to be fed," said Bradley. "We are in fact, mission essential."