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Moody provides FEMA staging location, hosts emergency responders

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Moody AFB has hosted more than 1,000 emergency response members beginning Sept. 8 as part of rescue and relief efforts for Hurricane Irma.

Federal Emergency Management Agency resources, Army National Guard troops, and various search and rescue teams from around the country poured into the base with more than 500 vehicles in order to establish operation centers and recuperate before conducting humanitarian operations in Florida following the hurricane.

“When it comes to natural disasters, our mission is to make sure our people and our base are safe and taken care of,” said Lt. Col. Mack Coker, 23rd Mission Support Group deputy commander. “This effort in response to Hurricane Irma provided Moody with a unique opportunity to extend this mission beyond just our base. 

“This shows Moody is a ready and reliable partner when it comes to providing support in a time of need and strengthens our relationship within the community and our sister services,” Coker added.

Moody was able to provide emergency responders with a shelter, office location to set up a FEMA staging and operation center, hot meals (or meals ready to eat), as well as fuel and parking for their support vehicles.

“These troops and teams were coming from all over the country to help support Florida, some of which had just come from providing rescue efforts in response to Hurricane Harvey,” Coker said. “They were tired, hungry, and needed a place to reconstitute or ride out the storm. We provided them with an opportunity to get a good 12 hours of rest and a good meal, preparing them that much more to join the fight and potentially save lives.”

As the storm passed South Georgia and teams departed to provide relief efforts, FEMA used the base as a staging center where they could gather teams, develop mission assignments and ship out personnel to appropriate locations. 

“It’s great to have a place that can provide logistical support as our teams come together from across the country,” said Dan Coney, Department of Interiors Office of Inspector Greneral assistant special agent in charge. “Being prior Air Force, I feel a sense of home being able to come here and our team is very grateful for the supplies and resources the base has provided us to be able to perform our mission.”

Though it is common for Department of Defense bases to be used as bed down locations for FEMA and follow-on forces, it is a rare opportunity for Moody and has allowed Airmen to better train for real-world operations to come.

“The base’s effort in response to Hurricane Irma exercised our ability to perform in a real-world situation and taught us lessons for the future,” Coker said. “It doesn’t have to be a hurricane; these abilities have applicability over a lot of different situations and this has provided Airmen stationed here with the experience they may need later, whether it’s at Moody or another base.

“Overall, this has shown us we are able to fulfill requests and work with the community and sister services seamlessly,” Coker added. “Our Airmen have performed exceptionally through this time, and it has been a great base effort all around.”