NAVFAC Southeast

CERT Deploys to Pensacola Following Severe Weather

05/01/14 12:00 AM

Jacksonville, Fla. – Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast dispatched five civilian employees to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola May 1 as part of a Contingency Engineering Response Team (CERT). The team departed Naval Air Station Jacksonville at dawn.

The team of five consists of airfield pavement engineers, civil engineers and a geographic information system analyst.

Severe weather with heavy rains pounded the Gulf Coast region April 29 and 30 impacting area military facilities including NAS Pensacola. Many roads and bridges on board the base were flooded causing erosion and wash-outs.

“With the 2014 Hurricane Season on our heels, the preparation for a CERT deployment was very fresh on our minds,” said NAVFAC Southeast Disaster Preparedness Officer Lt. Cmdr. Ken Vargas. “The recent planning made the deployment of the CERT to NAS Pensacola extremely smooth. What we normally practice in four-day simulations, we executed in six hours.”

“These engineers will work directly with our Public Works Department (PWD) in Pensacola,” said NAVFAC Southeast Operations Officer Capt. Lore Aguayo. “They will perform assessments to help get the base back to normal operations as soon as possible.”

In conjunction with PWD staff, the team will prioritize facilities/infrastructure on NAS Pensacola and at nearby Corry Station. The team will deploy Disaster Assessment Teams (DATs) to identify and quantify the damage caused by the storm. They will then record the damage to a sufficient degree to allow for cost estimations to be generated for the repairs.

“The Public Works Department currently manages the facilities, water, power, and sanitation for the base,” said Aguayo. “The team from Jacksonville will be working hard to assist the PWD and the installation commander set priorities and will support them with whatever they need to get the job done.”

Sending engineers around the world is not new to NAVFAC.

“We always have a trained CERT ready to go at a moment’s notice,” said Vargas.

Vargas explained that the CERT has DATs which consist of structural, electrical, and mechanical engineers, architects, roofing specialists, community planners and construction contract specialists that deploy to begin Rapid Damage Assessments. It is during this phase that debris is removed and basic functions are restored such as opening roadways, sanitation, water, electricity and communications.

Typically, these teams are deployed to assess hurricane or other storm damage to military installations such as was the case in August 2012 when teams deployed to Gulfport, Miss. and New Orleans, La. in response to Hurricane Isaac. They are also called upon to deploy for humanitarian efforts such as a tsunami or the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.


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