Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command

NAVFAC Southeast CERT Deploys to NAS Kingsville after Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas

08/27/17 12:00 AM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast dispatched a 12 person Contingency Engineering Response Team (CERT) today to Naval Air Stations (NASs) Kingsville and Corpus Christi, Texas from NAS Jacksonville who will meet up with another 5 person team from Public Works Department Fort Worth out of NAS Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. The CERT will evaluate facilities on base that may have received damage from Hurricane Harvey as it passed through the Corpus Christi area.

The CERT has Disaster Assessment Teams (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.

“The CERTs 17 members are heading to NAS Kingsville and then on to NAS Corpus Christi. They plan to arrive tomorrow, August 28, to assist in the base with damage assessments. Two teams are out of Jacksonville and one is out of Ft. Worth,” said NAVFAC Southeast Disaster Preparedness Officer Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Thrun.

It is during this phase that damage is rapidly assessed to support restoration of basic functions such as debris removal and reopening roadways, expedient roof repairs, and resumption of sanitation, water, electricity and communications services.

Integrated Product Team Gulf Coast Assistant Operations Officer Cmdr. Anant Patel is the CERT Officer in Charge with each DAT having a team lead. 

“As a civil engineer corps officer, I have a unique skill set, deployment experience and ability to be able to respond to emergency situations,” said Patel. “NAVFAC and the Seabees have a proud tradition of answering the call when disasters happen and I am honored to volunteer to carry on this tradition and coordinate our efforts in Texas.”

DAT Team Lead Ensign Derick Schmitz, PWD Jacksonville Construction Manager and Civil Engineer Corps Officer stated, “I hope to learn a lot about logistics, planning, team management and leadership. This experience will bring me together with engineers of different disciplines and I am excited to help get the base back to normal operations as soon as possible.”

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 Thrun. 

Typically, these teams deploy to assess hurricane or other storm damage to military installations such as was the case most recently in February 2017 and October 2016 when teams deployed to assist the United States Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia when tornadoes devastated the base and the United States Navy's Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), located on Andros Island in the Bahamas after Hurricane Matthew impacted the facilities there.

“I served as a structural engineer on a DAT to AUTEC and am on the team going to Texas today,” said Pam Cowden, NAVFAC Southeast structural engineer. “As a team we tour the facilities on base and provide a rapid assessment of the damages. We document the damage to start the process for repairs. We also document and mark any facilities that we feel will be unsafe due to damage so that safety hazards can be avoided and mitigated.”

Cowden also shared that, “It is a good feeling to be able to help people feel safe returning home or to work when I can assure them that the building is safe.  When buildings are found to be unsafe, sometimes I can help to make it safe temporarily until final repairs can be made by recommending shoring, removal or bracing of damaged building elements. Putting my book of knowledge into practice is very gratifying.”

Previous CERTs have seen widespread devastation from tornado damage not only on Albany MCLB, but also in the surrounding community when they were in Georgia.  There was extensive damage to pre-engineered metal buildings that had been reduced to a pile of twisted metal and debries that a tornado had picked up and deposited on the other side of a building in a crumbled up mess. 

“We deploy at a moments notice to help the installation as many of their personnel may have been evacuated or tending to their family and their own property assessments immediately following the storm,” said Patel.

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