With hurricane season beginning June 1, Naval Station Mayport is planning for its annual training exercise on how to respond to natural disasters and how to evacuate the base if a storm heads to Northeast Florida.
Called HURREX 20, the training will run from May 11 to May 15, and involve a simulated storm system that will develop and intensify to hurricane strength.
“HURREX is a training opportunity, basically for everybody to dust off the cobwebs from being in the offseason, and it gives us a good chance to review our plans,” said Marc Robins, the Chief Damage Controlman at Naval Station Mayport.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, military officials say most of the planning for what they call Hurrex-20 training has to be done virtually through teleconferences.
“It does present challenges, but we're doing a great job working through it,” Robins said.
Al Iannacone, Mayport’s Director of Personnel Support, said despite the coronavirus, hurricane season is still on sailors’ minds.
“If they've lived in Florida, or if they've listened to the news anywhere, then it shouldn't be on the back burner, because here in a minute, it's going to happen. Maybe not two months from now, but it's going to happen,” Iannacone said.
Iannacone helps sailors get information on what to do and where to go in the case of an evacuation. He also handles how they would get paid during that time.
“You need to have a plan ahead of time,” Iannacone said. “If you’re not thinking about it now, you should be. Where are you going to go? If you wait until the last minute, do you think you’re going to get a hotel 100 miles from here? You’re not.”
Iannacone says there’s nearly 10,000 sailors to account for at the Mayport base, and many of them and their families can use this opportunity to learn and prepare for a hurricane if they’re from out-of-state.
In the event of a hurricane, the station will set up an Emergency Family Assistance Center (EFAC), where families can get legal, financial, housing and childcare assistance. The EFAC can also provide counseling.
The resources are also available for personnel stationed at NAS Jacksonville and Kings Bay Base.
Military families can also take part in the Navy Family Assistance Assessment System, which is a way for them to check in during a natural or man-made disaster and help figure out what resources are needed most for the family.
There will be no Navy ships moving in association with the HURREX 20 training. The training takes place at different naval stations, including the U.S. Fleet Forces Commanded in Norfolk, Va. and the Navy Installations Command based in Washington D.C.
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