Moody Hosts Federal Agents in Preparation for Hurricane Irma Relief Efforts

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Varied federal agencies took advantage of what Moody offered in support of relief efforts following Hurricane Irma.

Moody Air Force base was prepared to accommodate more than 500 Federal Emergency Management Agency responders en route to relieve Floridians affected by the storm.

“You guys have been great to us,” said FEMA Emergency Support Function-13 assistant special agent in charge John Underwood. “The infrastructure here is amazing. You’ve got buildings big enough for us to stage out of. The gym is set up with cots and you have food facilities to feed us, I know I prefer a hot meal.”

While most of the occupants were members of ESF-13, they weren’t the only ESF utilizing Moody’s facilities. Each ESF has unique responsibilities while deployed to a disaster location.

“As ESF-13, we’re public safety and security,” said FEMA ESF-13 regional law enforcement coordinator Special Agent Gregory Fox. “So, in the event that the local and state law enforcement agencies get overwhelmed with request due to the weather or conditions, they can request to have ESF-13 supplement their sate and local law enforcement assets.”

This responsibility is necessary because often times search and rescue teams have law enforcement members with them to maintain good order and safety in disaster-torn areas.

“They’re going to the front lines and into harm’s way to do their job so it’s important that we do this for them,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gregory Savella, 23d Force Support Squadron commander. “It’s hard to stage yourself if you don't have the proper facilities, so we wanted to make sure they got enough rest while riding-out the storm here and charged up to 100 percent.

Not only did Moody ensure responders were rested and well-fed, but also safe from the storm.

“The biggest initial challenge that we face is probably pre-deploying and prepositioning assets to be effective and still maintain the safety of our responders,” said Fox. “The base command has just been absolutely phenomenal in providing support that we’ve asked for. They’ve gone above and beyond anything that we could’ve hoped.”

Moody’s commanders made the decisions, but many Airmen played a role in effectively hosting the agents.

“I feel a lot of our Airmen do our day-in and day-out duties and it may be hard to see how we affect the mission overall,” said Savella. “When you see a natural disaster like this and folks are going to need help and we’re a key part in enabling that; it makes a huge difference.