by Ryan Labadens, U.S. Navy Public Affairs
Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport participated in Hurricane Exercise (HURREX) and Citadel Gale (CG) 2019 (HURREX/CG 19) April 15-26 before the 2019 hurricane season.
HURREX/CG 19 is an annual exercise conducted in mid-spring in preparation for the Atlantic hurricane season.
The exercise emphasizes the importance of preparedness, recovery, consequence management and personnel account procedures for commands located on the Gulf Coast and East Coast, and it focus on installation response and recovery.
“Exercises like HURREX are important because they make us take a hard look at our hurricane plans,” said Lew Fountain, NCBC Gulfport emergency operations director. “It’s important to update the plans as often as possible so you’re using the most accurate information.”
NCBC Gulfport works in coordination with other Mississippi Gulf Coast military commands when planning a response to both simulated and real world disasters.
“Working with other coastal bases is an important factor when running things like HURREX,” said Fountain. “When we work with other bases we can share information like evacuation plans, collective resources and storm information.”
HURREX/CG 19 revolved around the two fictitious hurricanes: Alex and Mary. During the exercise, Alex made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane in the vicinity of New Orleans, La., on April 18.
“We have a very seasoned staff here,” said Commander William Pitcairn, NCBC Gulfport public works officer. “Our response is critical to getting base operations back up and running. Our team here knows what it’s like to respond to (these events) in the real world, so it makes it easier for us when we have exercises like this.”
Fountain said that this is the perfect time of the year for families to review preparation and evacuation plans for the upcoming hurricane season.
“There’s a lot that goes into making a plan for your family in case of a hurricane,” said Fountain. “You have to not just worry about yourself, but also your kids and other family members. What are your evacuation plans? What are your plans for your kids if you have to go into work? These are the kinds of questions you have to consider.”
The national hurricane season runs from June 1 – Nov. 30 each year. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide information on how to prepare and make plans before the start of the hurricane season.