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NMCOSC-Tulsa Assists with Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051012-07
Release Date: 10/12/2005 2:39:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Melissa Mullin, Naval and Marine Corps Operational Support Center Tulsa Public Affairs

TULSA, Okla. (NNS) -- Reservists, full-time support personnel and active-duty personnel here joined civilians in assisting more than 1,100 Hurricane Katrina evacuees relocated to Camp Gruber near Braggs, Okla., in early September.

The immediate tasks for Navy and Marine Corps Operational Support Center (NMCOSC) Tulsa included coordinating delivery of hygiene and clothing supplies, establishing a medical triage, preparing mess hall facilities and open-bay barracks, and offering emotional support for these displaced Americans.

“Over Labor Day weekend, a humanitarian mission took hold of NMCOSC-Tulsa and the networking of various organizations resulted in the outpouring of Oklahoma generosity,” said Mary Hudson, NMCOSC-Tulsa ombudsman. “There were so many items donated that extra personnel were needed to assist.”

After picking up items from drop-off points in Tulsa and Broken Arrow, volunteers sorted, boxed, staged, loaded and transported piles of donated clothing, shoes, bedding, blankets, pillows, toys and pet food.

At Camp Gruber, the preparation continued.

“I spent the first night setting up the registration room, placing snacks and water at the entrance gate to Camp Gruber, and making sure all of the beds in the barracks had sheets, pillows and towels,” said Storekeeper 2nd Class Daryl Campbell. “The evacuees did not arrive until late the next evening. I met them and helped them with their belongings. Buses continued to arrive until 5 a.m. Sept. 4.”

The medical team also assisted in greeting evacuees at the buses and escorting them to the check-in point at Camp Gruber. Having completed Red Cross training, the medical team worked in civilian clothes as volunteers, stocking more than 1,000 bags of hygiene supplies, operating a mass immunization setup and organizing a pharmacy.

“We screened and immunized all Navy staff and over 40 Reservists who volunteered in support of Hurricane Katrina relief,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcia McKinney, a full-time support member at Tulsa.

In the medical triage section, the team conducted initial assessments on more than 1,100 evacuees. As part of the mass immunization evolution, they administered approximately 800 vaccines and conducted a barrack-to-barrack immunization drive to assist the elderly and the physically challenged.

“Over 25 percent of the evacuees had diabetic and/or high blood pressure issues, and 36 had to be transferred per EMS to local hospitals,” said McKinney. “Victims with Tuberculosis and Hepatitis were quarantined, and four recovering drug addicts were sent for evaluations by a psychologist on call. Several displaced children without parents and three rape victims were transferred to the Department of Human Services for care.”

In addition to donation gathering and medical assistance, mental health crisis intervention became a growing need, as well.

“I counseled evacuees who suffered a variety of symptoms due to the trauma experienced, helped identify those who were at risk of harming themselves or others, and walked evacuees through the process of figuring out a short-term plan for housing, schooling for children, jobs, etc.,” said Ship’s Serviceman 2nd Class Thomas Potter, who is a social worker and trained crisis responder.

With the closing of September and its unusually-intense heat, Camp Gruber lay once again empty, with the last of the evacuees having been moved by the Red Cross to hotels.

“People are starting their lives over and need the strength and courage to face the future ahead,” said Hudson. “If there is anything to be learned from this experience, it is that the kindness and caring from people like you and me make even the darkest times bearable.”



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