Maxwell plays pivotal role in 2018 hurricane relief efforts
By: Airman 1st Class Charles Welty, Air University Public Affairs
Urban Search and Rescue teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Tennessee Task Force 1 prepare to deploy to Gulf Coast cities devastated by Hurricane Michael Oct. 11, 2018, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Maxwell is the South East incident staging area for FEMA. (Courtesy US Air Force / photo by William Birchfield)
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
With the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricanes Florence and Michael, Maxwell served as one of the primary focal points for relief efforts in the eastern U.S. over the past few months.
The First Air Force originally designated Maxwell as a FEMA incident staging base in preparation for Hurricane Florence in early September, which soon sent numerous relief trucks as well as a FEMA command team to start setting up on base.
However, not even two weeks later the southeast was ravaged again by another hurricane.
Following the landfall of Hurricane Michael, Maxwell was additionally made a federal staging area, which brought search and rescue teams and federal agency personnel to Maxwell to assist in relief efforts.
“At that point we bedded down 532 federal support personnel, we shut down the Maxwell fitness center in order to set up cots to house these teams,” said Lt. Col. Dan Mendoza, 42nd Operations Support Squadron commander. “A lot of these were urban search and rescue teams from different states as well as U.S. Marshalls, various forms of law enforcement, U.S. customs and even border patrol were coming through.”
With the catastrophic damage that Michael caused to Florida and the surrounding areas, many evacuees from military installations in particular made their way to Maxwell as they waited for the area to be declared safe for return.
Mendoza said that he received numerous calls from Maxwell community members offering spare bedrooms to any families that needed them. Through this, he recalled getting to see some inspiring acts of kindness from community members including a surprise fifth birthday party for a little girl from Tyndall, which was coordinated through a tag-team effort between the 42nd Air Base Wing and the 908th Airlift Wing here.
“It was really a Team Maxwell effort,” Mendoza said. “Throughout this process I coordinated with security forces, logistics readiness, medical, force support, Air University and even the local guard and reserve units. Everyone came together to provide support.”
These two hurricanes alone brought more 1,200 supply trucks to Maxwell containing essentials such as food, water, medicine and other basic necessities for victims, which were then distributed across the impacted areas.
Though many of the relief efforts are starting to subside, victims of the hurricanes may still need assistance.
Mendoza said that he recommends that evacuated service members utilize the Air Force Personnel Accountability and Assessment System (AFPAAS), which can be found in the Air Force portal, if they have not already done so. This system will provide information and assistance to service members and their families in order to handle financial and administrative issues caused by the hurricanes.
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