Mobility Airmen, FEMA stand up hurricane staging area in S.C.

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
  • Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Mobility Airmen are actively working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Joint Base Charleston’s North Auxiliary Airfield, as recovery and relief efforts continue following Hurricane Irma.

JB Charleston Airmen prepared the airfield Sept. 8, 2017, for FEMA’s primary staging area, and continue to help receive and distribute relief goods and commodities destined for areas in need.

“We serve as the liaison and support entity for the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Office,” said Col. Rockie Wilson, 628th Mission Support Group commander. “We’ve worked closely with both [Air Forces Northern] and the 18th Air Force to coordinate the support from Pope Army Airfield as well as provided access to the [North Auxiliary Airfield].”

With hundreds of trailers moving through the staging area, Airmen from the 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group at Pope AAF, North Carolina, joined to help JB Charleston members continue relief efforts.

“We’re expecting anywhere from 600 to 700 trailers to arrive with different kinds of commodities being requested down in Florida,” said 1st Lt. Savannah Emmrich, 43rd Air Base Squadron at Pope AAF. “You have food and water. Those are the main two, but then you also have cleaning supplies and anything else that’s needed and requested.”

The working dynamic between the Air Force and FEMA has cultivated an effective operating environment for some Airmen.

“We’re working really well with them,” said Emmrich. “It’s been an honor for us to get this opportunity to help FEMA, see their operations and be able to support this effort.”

Jodi Johnson, FEMA facilities manager and installation support base ground support member, said working alongside the military during this operation has been a positive experience. After serving 27 years in the Army, she appreciates all the help the Air Force provides.

“I took the Airmen into the training room yesterday, trained them for about 45 minutes, and they hit the ground running,” said Johnson. “They’re very receptive to do anything we ask them to do. We all come together as one family, one unit. We’re all able to come together as one unit to work together effectively.” 

The partnership will continue during the weeks ahead, and although a completion date isn’t set, some have expressed their excitement to continue operations as long as is needed.

Staff Sgt. Micah Hallman, 43rd Air Mobility Squadron air transportation specialist, Pope AAF, is enjoying the opportunity to help those in need and appreciates the experience of working alongside FEMA.

"Any chance we get to come down and help people in need is a good day,” said Hallman. “We have good folks here at FEMA. They've been real forward with any information we need. Anything they have, they've made it clear we can use it. Just a real professional group of people, and I’m glad to be a part of this."