Cherry Point prepares for destructive weather season

20 May 2011 | Pfc. Cory D. Polom

Eastern North Carolina is known for its destructive weather to include thunderstorms, high wind conditions, flooding, tropical cyclones and hurricanes. With the start of hurricane season right around the corner, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point officials prepared for worst-case scenarios during its annual destructive weather functional exercise May 6-11.

“This event is used by the commander of the air station to make sure personnel are ready for the upcoming destructive weather season,” said Mike Barton, deputy director of public affairs. “This exercise helps better prepare those who are needed in emergency situations.”

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

Barton said a destructive weather scenario was given where a hurricane was predicted to make landfall near Wilmington, N.C., and the Marines, Sailors and civilians who would be involved with storm preparation and response were tested to see if they would be ready when called to react.

“We use events like this to see what we’re doing right and what we could do better,” said Barton.

During the exercise’s final day a group of Marines, Sailors, civilians and local rescue services joined together in the Cherry Point Emergency Operations Center to discuss storm scenarios that might occur on the air station. Sections had to figure out how to work together to successfully implement the preparedness plan and prevent injuries and fatalities.

About 25 personnel gathered in the EOC to execute the destructive weather safety plan.

“This event ran extremely smooth,” said Capt. Joshua J. Jones, the destructive weather officer for the exercise. “We needed this to operate like a real-life scenario and it did. With this event there will be little mistakes, but the good thing is no one can get hurt from those mistakes and we can learn from them.”

Jones said he feels that with the hurricane season approaching, Cherry Point will be better prepared if destructive weather hits the area.

“In a real-life situation, we cannot be 100 percent ready for everything,” said Barton. “Nature can surprise you no matter how much you prepare. This exercise was just one way for us to reduce the number of surprises when the real thing comes.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point