Navy working to ready hurricane plan by mid-May
WASHINGTON — The Navy is trying to come up with a plan to take care of its own ahead of this year’s hurricane season, said Rear Adm. Donald R. Gintzig.
The plan is not yet public record because it is still being “tweaked” by Navy commands, which are working feverishly to complete the plan by mid-May, Gintzig said.
“The Navy has the template for the plan,” Gintzig said. “The meat of it — the who, the what, the when, the where — is developed. Now we’re working on the how.”
Gintzig served as deputy commander of a Navy task force that was responsible for assisting the roughly 90,000 Navy personnel, retirees and families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
About 18,000 people requested assistance in the hurricanes’ aftermath, and as of Feb. 15, about 4,000 people still need help with housing, transportation, education and other issues, Navy officials said.
He said one major lesson from the hurricanes is that the Navy needs a way to reach people quickly to see how they are doing.
“When you’re on a ship and someone yells ‘Man overboard!’, in a matter of minutes you can account for where everybody is and find out who’s missing,” Gintzig said. “When you get on shore, you scatter; you don’t have that same mentality.”
With no process in place to find Navy personnel and retirees that had evacuated for Katrina and Rita, the Navy improvised by using the Bureau of Naval Personnel Web site, he said.
The second major lesson is that the Navy needs to establish “one-stop shops” where Navy personnel and families can get help, Gintzig said.
“We found early on that people were being sent all over the place,” he said. “I had to go this way to get Navy Marine Corps relief, I had to give this way to get something notarized, I had to go over here to find about pay.”
This prompted the Navy to establish 10 Community Support Centers where Navy personnel and families could get all the assistance they needed under one roof, Gintzig said.
The third lesson is that people need to be prepared before a catastrophe hits, he said.
“Making sure that within all of our Navy families they are ready and have access to where their information is and where they need to go and how they need to call in, and to have supplies of food and emergency equipment to-go-through checklist and know what they need to do when they go back in their house for safety reasons,” Gintzig said.