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Naval District Washington (NDW) leadership was recently recognized by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator W. Craig Fugate, for their exceptional support of regional emergency preparedness efforts during Hurricane Sandy last October.

Fugate sent letters of thanks to regional Navy Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers (NEPLOs) Capt. Dean Blaha, Commanding Officer, NDW NEPLO; Capt. Dan Hable, FEMA Headquarters NEPLO; and now retired Capt. Michael VanBrocklin, commandant, Naval District Washington NEPLO.

“Thank you for your outstanding efforts in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center during Hurricane Sandy response and recovery operations,” Fugate wrote to the officers. “Your expertise, professionalism and sense of duty were instrumental in creating a unified response to save lives, minimize damage and set the conditions for a long-term recovery for over 8 million of our fellow citizens.”

Fugate further thanked the NEPLO captains by adding that their help was part of the overall response effort by the Department of Defense (DOD) as a whole. In the letters, Fugate said that DOD rapidly provided over 50 large-scale generators and 1.43 million gallons of fuel to ensure first responders and survivors could continue their missions and care for their families.

“Additionally, DOD executed 75 strategic airlift missions to transport 299 power restoration vehicles and 487 technicians to the affected area. Also, the department transported and operated over 100 large-volume pumps to dewater major transportation nodes including the New York City subway system,” said Fugate. “And, while all this was unfolding, the U.S. military delivered over 6.2 million meals and thousands of cots and blankets to ease the suffering of those affected by this catastrophic storm.”

Blaha explained that he and his staff of NEPLOs were prepared for Hurricane Sandy because of their specialized Defense Support of Civil Authorities training and ability to work as liaisons between the Navy and federal agencies during natural and manmade disasters.

“In the early stages of Hurricane Sandy, we provided support to the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, as it did look for a period of time like Sandy might significantly impact the local D.C. community,” said Blaha. “In addition, Captains Dan Hable, Mike VanBrocklin and I provided support to FEMA at the National Response Coordination Center in South West D.C. We worked through this event to help ensure DOD support was provided when requested by state and local officials. Although the greater D.C. area was not significantly impacted, the areas along the east coast were dramatically affected. The support that DOD provided during this event was coordinated with FEMA, and our NEPLOs helped to make that happen.”

Though pleased that he and members of his staff were recognized for their efforts during the hurricane, Blaha also said that he and his NEPLO staff were a small part of the greater response effort during the storm.

“Across the country many of our fellow NEPLOs participated, as well as many hundreds of other members of the Department of Defense,” said Blaha. “Each of them deserves the same accolades.”

In spite of this modesty, Fugate let each of the three NDW NEPLOs know how much he and the FEMA staff appreciated their dedication to service when their country was in need.

“The needs of those affected by Hurricane Sandy will not instantly fade,” said Fugate. “Indeed, many will have to rebuild from scratch. I want you to know, however, that your efforts in coordinating DOD’s contribution to the unified response have given them the best possible chance at a successful long-term recovery. Your actions, and those of your team, are a credit to the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense. Thank you.”