NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Even though hurricane season begins on June 1, sailors at Naval Support Activity Panama City are already preparing for severe weather.
Last week, the base held its hurricane prepardeness event and now starting its training exercises.
Installation Training Officer, Corey Brooks says one area they are also focused on is improving communication, especially after Hurricane Michael proved they had some weaknesses.
“What happened was we were not prepared for all the phone lines to not work. It was hard to communicate and that’s one of the big pieces when you’re trying to reconstitute, get back on the base, or when it initially happens, trying to contact your folks and figure out what their needs are,” said Brooks.
Brooks says they are testing out new ways of contact and while COVID-19 has presented challenges, it’s forcing them to think out of the box.
“We’ve had to come up with ways of trying to stay communicated while people are working different schedules and trying to ensure they can get this information we’re passing out,” he said.
Since Hurricane Michael hit the area though, Brooks says he believes the community outside the gates is taking precautions even more serious because its seen how much of an impact a storm can really cause.
“From a military perspective, our interests are always peaked when it comes to hurricane season because we know what kind of damage that can occur. Obviously with Michael, more of the community is more aware of it and so we don’t have to do much prodding for individuals to give us their recall information or where they’re going to head if we have a storm, informing folks that you need to have your hurricane kits or safety kits, we don’t have to give them as much nudging when you have a storm that’s happened recently,” Brooks said.
Lieutenant Leanna Cox serves on base as the Emergency Management Officer and is helping to get more information to families on how to physically prepare for bad storms.
“We have worked with the FEMA and our Bay County office Emergency operating center to look at the essential items we need to be ready to take on the road,” she said.
She says an important tip when it comes to your emergency kits, pick a storage unit that will stand out.
“Highly recommend a box that stands out, if you have mostly black storage boxes, get a box that red or blue or green so when you’re in a rush come hurricane season, you’re ordered to evacuate, you know exactly what box you’re going to grab and it stands out,” Lt. Cox said.
Lieutenant Cox talked through personal items, food/ water, important documents, and other devices people may need. Listen to her tips in the videos below. She also shared what items should be packed to protect you from COVID-19.
Find more resources on hurricane preparedness here.