Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Brannon Deugan
Seabees load logs into a truck while they help clean up debris at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, Oct. 9, 2016. Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 Detachment Jacksonville and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 from Gulfport, Mississippi are continuing Hurricane Matthew cleanup efforts in the South East Region area. (Photo by Seaman Michael Lopez/161009-N-TP832-027)
The crew of 19 Seabees worked more than 30 hours to clear fallen trees and debris from roadways and vehicle inspection areas at the main entrance in efforts to allow for the full operation of the bases.
“This is one of the core functions the Seabees are available to perform,” said Petty Officer 1st Class John Duke, from Tupelo, Mississippi. “It was important because NAS Jacksonville and NS Mayport needed our assistance to get the base fully operational.”
In Jacksonville, the crew cut and hauled fallen trees to clear roadways and swept three major roadways on base. While at Mayport, the crew assisted with clearing and hauling 17 fallen trees including one large oak that fell into a vehicle inspection area at the main entrance as well as a large tree that fell along the main exit from base.
The crew was already detached to Jacksonville for another project when their assistance was requested.
“As a Detachment in Jacksonville, we were well positioned to be the first responders,” said Duke. “Our crew size, equipment, and tools were perfect for the tasks NAS Jacksonville and NS Mayport required to open the bases. Being on site already, our group had no personal preparations to make and was ready to work when we got the call.”
The crew first got the call on October 6, 2016, to assist with the preparation before the storm surge. NMCB 1 loaded, hauled, and delivered more than 3,000 sandbags to support base air operations and the helicopter hanger. Sandbags were also filled and delivered to 35 homes in base housing along the St. John River.
For the members of the crew, their efforts provided an opportunity to lend a helping hand. According to Seamen Skylar Lunders, from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, being able to assist with the recovery efforts was a great experience to make an impact and to help make a difference by easing the stress that Hurricane Matthew presented.
While the opportunity to help was a good experience for the crew, the opportunity also provided a learning experience.
“Preparation is everything when it comes to executing a plan to the best of your ability, even when the event that occurs is not part of the plan,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant Norris, from Dallas. “By being prepared for any situation you are able to focus on the mission at hand when you are needed the most. When disaster strikes, being prepared means that you stand ready to be the first responder and help others that are less prepared. Be ready, be prepared, be there when you are needed the most.”