CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Members of the local government and Marine Corps Installation East worked together to ensure the safety of the population of Onslow County Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station new River during a simulated worst-case scenario Category Four Hurricane Table Top Exercise at the Onslow County Government Complex, May 1.
The Table Top Exercise was designed to provide the skills and knowledge to develop and improve the overall quality and workability of hurricane preparation and recovery plans.
According to Erik Heden, the National Weather Service’s warning coordination meteorologist, there hasn’t been a category four hurricane in Onslow County since 1954 with Hurricane Hazel, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one this year or any year.
In 1954 the population of Onslow County was about 42,000, while in 2016 the population was estimated to be more than 187,000.
“We have seen that half the deaths during hurricanes are due to storm surge and 80 percent are due to water” said Heden. “Twenty-two thousand people in Onslow County live within the area that could be impacted by the storm surge of a category four hurricane. It would take up to 50 hours to evacuate the lower coastal region if a category four or five hurricane hit directly.”
Onslow County has never had to a full evacuation, but this exercise allowed them to bring up the problems and tactics if such an event were to happen.
“Here in Onslow County we have never done a mandatory evacuation for the county as a whole,” said Norman Bryson, Director of Onslow County Emergency Services. “We have had some for North Topsail Beach, but those are some of the discussions that we need to have. What are we going to do if we have to move the majority of our population?”
“With our installations along the eastern coast, we are looking at saving our infrastructure and our equipment, but most of all, saving our people, getting our Marines, Sailors and their families out of harm’s way,” said Garry Neal, Regional Emergency manager for MCI-East. “Our personnel need to be prepare for an emergency. We need to make sure that everyone is safe, on the road if need be or hunkered down with enough food and medicine to wait it out or to leave.”
The official hurricane season starts June 1 and ends November 30, with the peak expected to be in the middle of September.
Visit www.nhc.noaa.gov to stay up to date on the hurricane watches and warning in your area.