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Altus AFB, Jackson County DHS send supplies to Gulf Coast hurricane victims

Airmen from the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., prepare supplies donated by the community to be flown to regions devastated by Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Master Sgt. Eugene Bird)

Airmen from the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., prepare supplies donated by the community to be flown to regions devastated by Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Master Sgt. Eugene Bird)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AETCNS) -- Employees and family members of the Jackson County Department of Human Services delivered three tons of supplies to Altus Air Force Base logistics teams Saturday morning to be airlifted to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

DHS director Rick Steen said the agency's workers came to a quick consensus that they needed to help the day after the hurricane passed over the Gulf Coast. They began on Aug. 30 collecting the goods: water, toiletries, food, medicine and other supplies.

"When we got the media involved -- the Altus Times, KWHW, KEYB, and others -- it started rolling in," Mr. Steen said.

Members of the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron packed the goods to air freight standards and transported them to a staging area to ship on the next flight to the region.

According to Col. Linda Medler, 97th Mission Support Group commander at Altus, the base rushed to assist in transporting the humanitarian goods. Since Thursday, flights from Altus AFB have been delivering equipment to New Orleans and evacuating hundreds of people.

DHS family members boxed up supplies from Altus, Vernon, Lawton and surrounding counties and cities.

"Our security forces welcomed them, and checked the donations for hazardous materials. I had asked our services squadron commander, Lt. Col. Ken Olsen, to take a look at the supplies, and they had matched what was needed, so -- like the Air Force does -- we jumped on it," Colonel Medler said.

Colonel Olsen said he was awed by the effort.

"Mr. Steen and the folks downtown were so proactive. How heartwarming -- they did this without any prompting. We went down to survey how much they had. Donations were stacked all the way to the ceiling," Colonel Olsen said.

"It's a great community. There's no dividing line between the City of Altus and Altus Air Force Base. We just work together to make things happen," Colonel Medler said.
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