MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Out with the storm, in with the hope.
Now that Hurricane Irma has moved out of the Sunshine State and the southeast, members of the Defense Logistics Agency are preparing to send much-needed relief supplies to Florida’s citizens.
Starting Tuesday, more than 160 tractor trailers filled with food, water, cots and other supplies are leaving Maxwell and heading for the Orlando airport. From there, the supplies will be taken to affected areas throughout the state. The rest of the more than 830 trailers initially parked on base will depart for Florida in the days and possibly weeks to follow.
Maxwell was designated a Federal Emergency Management Agency Incident Staging Base before the storm hit Florida and started receiving tractor trailers laden with relief supplies on Sept. 6. Teams of DLA and FEMA personnel were on hand to receive the supplies.
Since then, base personnel have been working around the clock to ensure the bed-down of several hundred military personnel, aircraft and equipment necessary for the response. The base also set up an evacuee reception center to provide lodging and support to about 100 displaced military families.
“First and foremost,” said Col. Eric Shafa, commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing, “our thoughts and prayers remain with those impacted by Hurricane Irma.”
“I’m incredibly proud of how Team Maxwell has responded to this crisis,” he said. “While we never want disaster to strike, the wing trains and exercises constantly so that we are prepared to support the ISB mission, as well as the staging of any units for response and relief efforts.”
Currently, a few FEMA and about 40 DLA personnel are still on base to direct the distribution of supplies, and will do so until the last truck leaves. About 10 of the DLA employees here worked the relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey in Texas, said Chuck Ensinger, DLA Distribution Expeditionary Operations planner.
The reception and support he and his DLA team received from Team Maxwell was “outstanding,” he said.
“It was just phenomenal,” said Ensinger. “Everyone bent over backwards in satisfying all our needs and requirements, from lodging requests to food to mission support needs, everyone was very accommodating.”
As what remains of Hurricane Irma heads north and as the relief supplies head south, Shafa said that the “Best Hometown in the Air Force” remains firmly planted in central Alabama.
“We call ourselves that not just because of the unbreakable bond we have with the city of Montgomery and the River Region,” he said, “but also because our Airmen are always ready and always there when called upon to support the mission.”