By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth St John, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Thanks to an amazing display of teamwork and dedication, life is returning back to normal at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn., after heavy rains and substantial flooding caused significant damage May 1.
All base personnel and residents were evacuated and the base was closed for several days to all except mission-essential employees.
"This is a perfect example of the cooperation that happens when you have a terrific relationship with your tenant commands and a terrific relationship with your community," said Capt. Doug McGowen, commanding officer, NSA Mid-South.
The installation suffered no loss of life from the massive flooding that affected 25 counties across the state and took the lives of 18 people.
"My obligation is clearly to protect the Navy's most precious assets, that's our Sailors and our families," said McGowen.
NSA Mid-South immediately activated an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from which to organize first responders and monitor the crisis.
"Our first responders -our fire, our security- were out there in boats rescuing these people," said Karen Blackwood, NSA Mid-South emergency management officer.
"They were up to their necks in this gunk, rescuing people, carrying babies, doing the things you only see on TV. That's what our first responders were out there doing, saving these people. Because of them we had no serious injuries and no one died, which really could have happened," she added.
The EOC, which had to be re-located four times because of the rising water, is working tirelessly to return a sense of normalcy to life on base.
"We have people working so far outside their normal duties and everyone has a smile on their face," said Blackwood. "Our spirits are up. We are keeping that positive attitude because we know that in the end, we are doing what we are supposed to do -serving Sailors," she added.
NSA Mid-South also began organizing volunteers once the storm passed, including chaplains and counselors. Those 200 volunteers are now helping displaced families sift through their belongings and move back into their homes.
"The response has been tremendous," said Force Master Chief (AW/SW/NAC) Jon D. Port, Naval Personnel Command force master chief.
Port said that within 24 hours a Family Assistance Center (FAC) had been stood up and was staffed by residents from the Fleet and Family Support Center, Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society and the Red Cross. The FAC served as a temporary home to those who were evacuated and provided basic necessities such as food, water and cleaning supplies.
"Now comes the hard steps of recovery. CNIC [Commander Naval Installations Command] has been actively engaged every step of the way to get the resources down here," Port added. "Everybody has stood shoulder to shoulder to try and help each other. I can see why Tennessee is called the volunteer state."
With the clean up well underway, the essential missions of the base are coming back on line and 147 families have been able to move back into their homes.
For more news from Commander, Navy Installations Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnic/.