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Air Force civilians impacted by hurricane receive AFIMSC support

Linda Alcala, right, reviews time cards of civilians impacted by Hurricane Florence with members of her AFIMSC Financial Operations team, Ellen Lounsberry, seated, and Rick Baltes. U.S. Air Force Photo by Ed Shannon

Linda Alcala, right, reviews time cards of civilians impacted by Hurricane Florence with members of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center financial operations team, Ellen Lounsberry, seated, and Rick Baltes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Shannon)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Linda Alcala listened to a news report about Hurricane Florence approaching the Carolina coast. She heard about a woman whose family didn’t have enough money to evacuate, and payday wasn’t for another week.

“That hit my heart hard,” said Alcala, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center financial operations chief.

The woman’s story prompted Alcala to think about all of the Air Force civilians potentially impacted by the storm, and it drove her to action.

Alcala asked a member of her team to research installations impacted by the storm, including bases that issued evacuation orders. Jason Schneider was one step ahead and had already discovered bases from Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command were involved in either full or limited evacuations or civilians were being granted administrative leave. Schneider then discovered in the Automated Time Attendance and Production System more than 700 time cards at those installations required certification with a deadline to certify fast approaching.

So after coordination with ACC and AMC, Schneider granted ATAAPS permissions for three people from the Financial Operations team to certify the time cards.

“If AFIMSC did not have the capability to check in the time card system, more than 700 people might not have been paid on time,” Alcala said.

Financial Management officials at ACC and AMC expressed appreciation by phone or email for AFIMSC’s support.

“Thanks for reaching out to me and offering to take care of our civilians at (Joint Base) Charleston,” said Rick Weathers, AMC Financial Management executive director. “I took the opportunity today to brag to some people about the great working relationship we have and your willingness to go the extra mile supporting AMC and taking care of people.”

Meanwhile, another part of the AFIMSC enterprise reports it is prepared to process the anticipated 5,000 evacuation travel claims. Greg Hansel, Air Force Financial Services Center branch chief responsible for the team handling the claims, said the evacuation team stands ready to process claims, and the organization has the capability to surge additional members as needed.

“We have a lot of people in the building capable of processing these vouchers,” said Hansel, who reported an expectation of about 3,100 claims from JB Charleston, South Carolina, and 1,500 claims from JB Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

This is the third year in a row AFFSC has received evacuation claims from JB Charleston.

Despite an increase in overall vouchers filed due to a heavy PCS travel season, Hansel said the team, in partnership with the Air Force Accounting and Finance Office, recently completed a Continental United States evacuation guide which will enable better support to affected bases.

“The bases have solid, current guidance, and we have great relationships with both bases,” Hansel said. “We are in a partnership to get vouchers paid quickly and accurately.”

While Hurricane Florence hammered the East Coast, Hawaii and Guam also experienced tropical storms. Installations at those locations did not issue evacuation orders nor were any issued after a recent earthquake in Northern Japan. Hansel’s team reviewed a handful of evacuation claims related to California wildfires this summer and stays alert for world events that could require evacuation orders so that his team is prepared to process claims.

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