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Iwo Jima Sailors Assist Parish Emergency Operations Center

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050915-01
Release Date: 9/15/2005 7:26:00 AM


By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Mike Jones, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Six of USS Iwo Jima’s (LHD 7) Aviation Support Equipment Technicians (AS), Aviation Structural Mechanics (AM) and Hull Technicians (HT) provided welcome assistance Sept. 14 to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel assigned to Jefferson Parish’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) here.

The Sailors from the multipurpose amphibious assault ship, currently moored in downtown New Orleans, designed, fabricated and installed two deep sinks and an outside shower to function as a decontamination station for EOC members engaged in ongoing hurricane relief and recovery efforts there.

“This team came out to our EOC [Sept. 13] to get an idea of what they could provide,” said Jefferson Parish FEMA Strike Team Leader Dan Griffiths. “We only had cold water showers at the time.”

The EOC, located at the Belle Terre Playground facility, is presently staffed by approximately 110 personnel from various state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and regional fire departments. All 110 are housed in the adjacent J. Harry Walker III Memorial Gym, and until Iwo’s Sailors arrived were sharing three sinks and three toilets among them.

“The installation of the two sinks and shower has been an enormous morale boost for all the relief workers out here,” Griffiths emphasized. “There is no doubt in anyone’s minds about the contributions by these guys to help us in our mission of saving lives.”

“This allows our guys to come out from the field and get cleaned up,” added Tonganoxi, Kan., Fire Chief Dave Bennett, who has been at the FEMA-run EOC since Sept. 1. “These guys are good.”

“It’s like having the cavalry showed up,” said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Allen Mordica. “This makes getting the job done here that much easier.”

“These Sailors have a talent and skill that’s absolutely suited for this assistance,” said Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AW/SW) James Presley, of Gainesboro, Tenn. “I’m extremely proud of these guys for the job they’ve done.”

“It was motivating to be able to come off the ship and see that we can have a direct impact on the mission here,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class (AW) Bradley Hinds, of Matoon, Ill.

“We have the tools and we have the training – it’s no hard task to be able to put that to use out here,” added Hull Technician 3rd Class Thomas Sauerbrey, of Newcomerstown, Ohio.

Iwo departed Norfolk August 31 to join relief and recovery efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.


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