In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s strike on Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, the Defense Logistics Agency, in support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, has established Incident Support Base Bragg.
The ISB at Simmons Army Airfield functions as a staging area to get supplies closer to the affected area, said Navy Cmdr. Steve Holbrook, officer in charge and a DLA team member.
DLA personnel arrived at Fort Bragg Sept. 23.
Volunteers from different service branches man the ISB, getting supplies such as food and water to disaster-ravaged areas.
FEMA determined that Fort Bragg would be an ideal site to pre-stage materials because it works as a hub, providing safe passage from the storm and because materials can be shipped directly to field support activities, Holbrook explained.
The ISB Bragg hub fields about 300 trailers containing mostly meals and water, with each trailer holding about 20,000 liters of water and about 30,000 meals, Holbrook explained. The food is comprised of both meals ready to eat and of bulk food that requires water to be added to feed a mass number of people.
Last Friday, for instance, personnel worked cohevsively to send out 60 trailers of water and 60 trailers of meals via trucking companies contracted by FEMA to provide assistance.
“Everybody is thrilled to be helping out the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and other areas,” Holbrook said.
One such person was Logistics Specialist 1st Class Liseth Perez, a Navy Reservist who said she spent an agonizing two weeks before learning that her Family members in Puerto Rico are all right.
“(This was), in a way, for me to help them out,” Perez said. “It’s (an) overwhelming, humbling feeling to know that what we are doing is going to be so helpful over there.”
Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Peter Henry agreed.
“They’re (Puerto Ricans) a part of the U.S. … so it’s important that we help them,” he said.
According to Holbrook, ISB Bragg is not the first hub at which federal personnel have volunteered. They were previously positioned at ISB Randolph in San-Antonio in response to Hurricane Harvey and at ISB Maxwell in Alabama in response to Hurricane Irma.
They are prepared to remain at ISB Bragg as needed.
“We’re here supporting FEMA and doing what they need us to do,” Holbrook said. “Folks are prepared to be out here until the end of October.”