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As spring continues, Americans across the country are dealing with the effects of inclement weather - communities are leveled by tornadoes, rivers swell over their banks and flood homes and property and spring winds whip up fire potentials. The government must also be aware of weather threats and the responsibility to always be prepared while managing a region’s resources properly. Preparation for any possible contingency is vital to help ensure that a locality or region can endure and recover from adverse weather conditions.

Each year, to property prepare for the upcoming hurricane season that begins June 1, the Navy runs a yearly exercise called HURREX/Citadel Gale. The HURREX/Citadel Gale exercise is conducted annually by Commander U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) and Commander Navy Installations Command (CNIC) to provide afloat and shore-based commands an opportunity to exercise hurricane preparedness and installation restoration plans prior to the onset of the hurricane season.

The purpose of this annual exercise is to prepare U.S. naval forces to respond to weather threats to U.S. coastal regions, and to maintain the ability to deploy forces even under the most adverse weather conditions.

“HURREX/Citadel Gale 2014 provides Navy Regions and Installations the opportunity to exercise and assess their ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the threat of a natural disaster, as well as validate Memorandums of Understanding/Agreements with non-federal government partner agencies.” said Bill Clark, CNIC Exercise Program manager.

Dahlgren and Indian Head Participation

Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren and NSF Indian Head - along with all Navy installations in Naval District Washington (NDW) - will participate in HURREX/Citadel Gale 2014, which will be conducted May 5 - 15.

The event will include functional and tabletop exercise events designed to train, evaluate and validate Naval Support Activity South Potomac’s (NSASP) standard operating procedures and actions during a hurricane. The exercise scenarios will evaluate the ability of NSASP to evacuate, respond and recover from a hurricane.

HURREX/Citadel Gale 14 will consist of two simulated tropical cyclones that will develop and intensify to hurricane strength, and will threaten the Eastern Coast of the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean coastal regions. All Navy commands with personnel in NRMA, NDW, and NRSE, ashore and afloat, in port and underway, will participate, to include reviewing and exercising heavy weather instructions and procedures and accounting for Sailors and Navy families in the affected regions through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS). Forward deployed units will not participate in the exercise tracking and warning phase.

The Navy will focus on training under five “conditions of readiness” that start four days before a storm hits and progresses all the way up to 12 hours prior.

Over the last two centuries, tropical cyclones have claimed the lives of approximately 1.9 million people. The United States has had its own costly reminders of the strength of hurricanes, notably in 2005 with the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina, which killed nearly 2,000 and caused $108 billion worth of damage, the costliest in American history.

Ensuring Sailors and Families are Safe

NDW, and the Navy as a whole, considers the safety of its Sailors and their families to be the highest possible priority, especially during violent weather. Therefore, there is a large emphasis in all Navy commands on security and accountability before, during and after destructive weather.

The Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) is a key part of this accountability. The Navy uses the NFAAS to account for Sailors and Navy families, as well as to identify disaster-related needs of Navy families. Sailors and their families should ensure their information is up to date in NFAAS. (NFAAS Website https://navyfamily.navy.mil)

With proper preparation and training, the dangers of destructive weather can be mitigated, and this year is no different. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the safety of equipment, and more importantly, Sailors and their families.

The Naval Safety Center has information on preparing for destructive weather which can be found at www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen/Documents/media/safetips/f-m/hurricane.doc.

More information on Navy Family Emergency Preparedness can also be found at www.cnic.navy.mil/CNIC_HQ_Site/WhatWeDo/FamilyLine/FamilyPreparedness/index.htm.

Gary Wagner, NSASP Public Affairs Officer, contributed to this article.