MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Reserve Sailors at Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Memphis responded to torrential rains and flash flooding May 1 that shut down Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South.
"Our Sailors did an exceptional job once the order was given to evacuate the installation," said Lt. Michael S. Hill, executive officer, NOSC Memphis. "Our drill training encompasses natural disasters."
NOSC Memphis has a full-time staff of 25 personnel and accommodates 16 Reserve units. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28, on duty during the flooding, was among the first to respond at NSA Mid-South.
"We were called in to an all hands by the NOSC skipper, Cmdr. Sean Fagan" said Quartermaster 1st Class Seth Hoppe, a NOSC Memphis full-time support Sailor. "But we knew by the drive into work it was not going to be a normal drill weekend."
Heavy rains early Saturday morning made it impossible for many Sailors to get to the NOSC, decreasing the Reserve staff by 70 percent. By 7 a.m., several main roads were at partially or completely flooded.
During an all-hands call, Sailors were informed about rescue and evacuation efforts for NSA. All families in housing, Navy Exchange and Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) employees, as well as Navy Inn guests had to be evacuated as water poured over a creek levee, flooding the base. An average of four feet of water covered most of the main installation by afternoon, but the NOSC command center was on higher ground.
"We immediately had at least 20 Seabees volunteer to man boats and evacuation vehicles," said Hill. "We had several heroes base wide, but a few Reserve units were key in getting the results we received: NMBC 28, Naval Security Force (NSF) and Carrier Augmentation Unit Atlantic Fleet 0174 (CVNLANT)."
One officer led a team into the first-deck offices of Navy Personnel Command, which handles personnel matters for the entire Navy, as waters rose and currents stiffened. They placed computers and files onto desktops and tables to reduce the water damage.
Half of NMBC 28's Sailors drove large trucks through housing, while the other half used small boats to maneuver right up to the carports of Sailors stranded in their homes. Seabees assisted families that could not drive themselves out of the flooded areas, lifting them into the small boats and to safety.
NMBC 28's mission is to provide construction or disaster recovery support to Navy, Marine Corps, joint and combined forces when directed. That support normally includes general engineering tasks or limited combat engineering tasks. The NSF Reserve unit is provides auxiliary support to the NSA Mid-South Police Department.
"I think our unit really stepped up the plate," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Joseph Major. "Once everyone knew their own family's safety status, they were ready to do whatever was necessary to meet the mission."
NSF was responsible for going door-to-door with NSA Mid-South Police to ensure every family was out of housing.
CVNLANT Sailors ran the rescue center, preparing the cots, handling supply distribution, feeding displaced Sailors and their families, and conducting crowd control and security watches.
No one was hurt in the flood, largely due to the quick action and organized approach of the Reserve first responders, officials said. As Millington, NPC and Navy Recruiting began recovering after water subsided the following day, the Reserve forces quick action was recognized by leadership.
"The best ships in the Navy are the ones that take care of themselves; they take initiative and fix themselves when needed," said Rear Adm. Lothrop S. Little, commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command during a short visit. "That is what you have done; you displayed ownership of your spaces and took the initiative to start recovering your destroyed spaces."
For more news from Commander, Navy Reserve Force, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrf/.