Richmond Command Post Helps CBP Employees Recover from Irene
Hurricane Irene made landfall in Cape Hatteras, N.C., early Saturday and shortly after crossed over Norfolk, Va., before heading back out to sea. It left in its wake significant power outages, extreme coastal flooding and downed trees.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection activated lead field coordinators and incident command posts to manage the agency's response and recovery operations.
CBP's incident command post in Richmond deployed teams into Norfolk and Richmond immediately after Hurricane Irene passed and conducted post storm damage assessments to port facilities. All CBP facilities are fully operational in Norfolk and Richmond.
The ICP also contacted all employees to ensure that they and their families were okay. ICP response teams also provided temporary generators, cut downed trees and helped local employees focus on returning to work.
The Richmond ICP successfully performed this substantial undertaking within one day to ensure employees and their families were accounted for, their post storm needs were met and port operations were not disrupted. A total of 65 missions were performed in Norfolk and in Richmond.
"The rapid response by CBP to Hurricane Irene ensured that our employees were taken care of and remained safe," said Michael S. Denning, the commander of the Richmond ICP and CBP's acting director of field operations for Atlanta and New Orleans. "Additionally, our CBP emergency response teams were able to ensure CBP port operations are open for business."
One such success story was aid that CBP officers rendered to CBP Technician Karen Haynes. Haynes, who works as a cashier in the port's entry control section and is the sole care-giver to her mother, lives in Virginia Beach. She said that CBP officers continually checked in on her and her mother to ensure they were ok.
After the storm passed, Haynes reported to her supervisor that she suffered tree damage to her home.
"Within one hour I had two CBP trucks in my yard and five willing workers," said Haynes. "The tree was so big they had to use a ladder to get to some parts of it. I have nothing to say but good praise about Norfolk CBP. It is the best!"
Haynes also related how CBP came to her aid following Hurricane Isabel, labeled the most costly and deadliest hurricane of the 2003 season. Isabel, too, made landfall on North Carolina's Outer Banks, as a category 2 on Sept. 18, 2003.
Five CBP officers as well came to her aid then.
"They worked so hard, I had to make them take a break," she said. "I know the weather was 90 degrees!"
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.