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Halloween and kids in cute costumes are what should have been on the minds of the Fort Detrick community. Instead, Hurricane Sandy was looming on the shore, waiting to make its way inland and wreak havoc. Throughout the year, the Emergency Management Office provides resources to the community in order to help it prepare for instances such as this, and this time it paid off with huge dividends.

On Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall between Delaware and New Jersey, heading for central Pennsylvania. Sustained winds were between 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts between 60 to 70 mph. Torrential rains hit continuously for hours, causing the Monocacy River to peak at over 23 feet. The Emergency Operations Center had minimal staffing for a 24-hour period to ensure situational awareness during this event -- because the safety of everyone is priority number one.

The synchronicity between mission partners and garrison personnel to ensure that property was secure and lives were not put in any danger was a tribute to the installation's teamwork and preparation. Laying the groundwork by providing preparedness materials and education throughout the year contributed to the success. There were no injuries during Hurricane Sandy on Fort Detrick or the Forest Glen Annex. The hurricane caused downed trees and other minor damage to Fort Detrick. Power outages were sporadic throughout the installation, but did not last.

Moving forward, the Fort Detrick community will continue to build on situations such as this in order to keep people prepared. It is imperative to seek out education on emergency preparedness by visiting www.fema.gov and www..ready.gov. This is also a time to review your family communications plan, your work Shelter-in-Place plan, and your own personal preparedness plans for your home and car.

If you live within a surrounding county in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia, it is very important that you get in contact with your local emergency management agency for your county or state to sign up for emergency alerts outside of Fort Detrick and the Forest Glen Annex.

If you experience difficulty finding this information, please contact the Fort Detrick Emergency Manager, Garth Phoebus. Fort Detrick will be rolling out a new system for emergency alerts in December 2012. Look for more information to follow on the new system.