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NEWS | May 16, 2014

Army North operations center supports hurricane exercise

By Staff Sgt. Corey Baltos Army North Public Affairs

Just as some people say death and taxes are certain to happen, it is also certain that a hurricane will hit the United States sometime in the future.

In an effort to save lives, alleviate human suffering and mitigate property damage, the federal government is getting prepared.

U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), in conjunction with various federal government agencies, held a three-day Department of Defense hurricane rehearsal of concept drill May 6-9 at the James E. Rudder U.S. Army Reserve Center in San Antonio.

"This exercise is conducted so we can collaborate with our state and federal partners and discus whether we are prepared for a hurricane," said Maj. Dave Oakley, the lead planner for the drill with Army North's operations section.

"We find out what type of requirements or things we will need as we enter hurricane season to assure that if one does occur, we are prepared to respond and provide aid when necessary."

As part of the ROC drill scenario, the group was faced with two hurricanes landing days apart from each other in different regions of the country.

Due to the size and locations of the hurricanes, the regions that were hit required help from other areas of the country.

"We chose a scenario that challenges our response efforts and forces us to look at our backup plans to ensure we are prepared to support our state and federal partners under even the most severe storms," Oakley said.

Over the course of the event, attendees took part in regional breakout sessions, made up of military and civilian officials in each Federal Emergency Management Agency region.

"We talked about how we'll provide assistance to those regions affected by the hurricane," said Paul Jensen, FEMA Region III emergency management specialist.

One of the benefits of the ROC drill is it allows for collaboration and partnership building before a disaster hits.

"We don't always have time to engage with all our partners," Oakley said. "This exercise allows us to be in the same room to talk and develop the relationships that are of the utmost importance if a hurricane does strike."

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and concludes November 30.