JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Hurricane Dorian and Northeast Florida on a potential collision course, those in charge of NAS Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport aren't taking any chances.
Employees and families staying on both bases have been ordered to upgrade their hurricane readiness and to prepare for the possibility that the storm's impact will be felt in Jacksonville.
Chief Marc Robins, Naval Station Mayport's emergency manager, said team leaders made the decision last night to ramp up their readiness.
"Key players get together daily, and we talk about the situation, what's going on," Robins said. "It's not something to take lightly, but we train for this. So it's not like it's new to anybody."
NAS Jacksonville's commanding officer, Capt. Michael Connor, has ordered the station into Condition of Readiness 3 by 10 a.m. Friday with powerful winds predicted to arrive within 48 hours. That means base personnel are clearing debris around their homes and boarding them up if necessary, gathering water supplies and taking other steps to prepare for the hurricane.
Mayport has issued similar orders for its base with some additional conditions:
- Take one car to cut down on congestion
- Gather your emergency supply kit, adequate for at least three days
- Unplug electrical equipment
- Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding
- Let others know where you are going
Naval Station Mayport sits on the edge of the river and the ocean and has numerous planes, helicopters and ships. If a storm gets bad enough, Navy commanders will make the decision to move their ships offshore into safer waters. That has not happened at Mayport, but it did two years ago when Hurricane Irma hit the First Coast.
Naval Station Mayport has approximately 11,000 people who live and work on the base, and safety personnel are making plans for those in base housing.
"We've asked the employees of Mayport to go ahead and take a look at all of the non-essential equipment and develop those plans to store that stuff too prior to the weekend," said Larry DeLong, safety installation manager for Mayport. "We've asked our residents to take a look around their residence to look for anything that could become airborne."
The forecast could change -- for better or worse -- but sailors at Maypor said they're on deck for whatever happens.
According to the Department of Defense, NAS Jacksonville has a population that includes over 10,000 DoD personnel, nearly, 7,000 federal employees, 2,500 contractors, and 34,000 family members.
The team at NAS Jacksonville is also watching the weather closely and preparing for what could come. Right now, they are not shutting down any operations.