NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Wednesday, June 1 is the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Our local military will play a bigger role in any response that’s needed this year.
Joint Task Force Civil Support is no stranger to disaster response. 10 On Your Side Photojournalist Robert Rizzo went to Fort Eustis on Wednesday to find out how they’re getting ready to take on hurricane season.
The Joint Task Force Civil Command Center is based at Fort Eustis and responds to disasters.
As part of the Department of Defense, the JTF-CS was created to assist in disasters when asked by FEMA.
“Our primary mission would be to respond to any chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incident that may have occurred,” said LTC Christopher Grasso, director of operations for JTF-CS.
And now, after more than two years of serving as the command and control element to COVID-19, the task force was tasked to do more.
“We are capable of doing way more than originally just designed and we can expand our capabilities to help in all hazards,” Grasso said.
Those hazards now include natural disasters such as wildfires, flooding, earthquakes and hurricanes.
“We roll in, we plan for, we receive. We integrate and we stage any forces to support the incident,” said Ken Lucas, deputy director of operations for JTF-CS.
In order to activate to respond to a disaster, the state must first reach out to the federal government or FEMA, then FEMA in turn reaches out to the task force to assist. How they help can vary.
“Of shelter, food, water, medicine, and what we have learned in the past 20 years … Information,” Lucas said.
It’s information that can help save lives. The command center is staffed 24/7, 365 days a year and is ready to respond within 12 hours.