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Hurricane relief mission: Soldiers aid in cleanup

Published: 03:39PM November 8th, 2012

Maj. Johnpaul Arnold

Col. Theresa Schneider, left, and Maj. Jason Faulkenberry.

Service members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord deployed earlier this week to an area near Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to support the clean up effort after Hurricane Sandy battered America’s Mid-Atlantic and southern New England states last week.

The team of 13 specialists from 227th Preventive Medicine Medical Detachment, 62nd Medical Brigade are set up at Contingency Operations Location Victory close to McGuire Field.

After setting up field-based lab equipment in tents, the preventive medicine specialists will begin routine sanitation control, although their official mission is yet to be determined.

Their goal will likely be to monitor water, air and soil for contamination, pollutants or disease, according to Capt. Scott Stanley, 227th PMMD public affairs officer.

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we are evaluating the basic components of infrastructure,” Stanley said. “This has become a sanitation issue.”

The team will also be monitoring the food supply with guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, and will be keeping an eye on the rodent population, since mud, water and debris displaced many rodents looking elsewhere for food.

The first members of the unit arrived early Monday morning; the entire team was in place by that evening. Stanley said power had just been restored to the area shortly before the team’s arrival to JB MDL.

The 227th PMMD was designated as part of the severe weather response force from June 1 to Nov. 30, the length of the official hurricane season. The unit trained for months in humanitarian response to severe weather. “When you train on something, you really want to execute it,” 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion commander Lt. Col. Kimberlee Aiello told The Olympian.

The current deployment order is for 28 days, although Stanley said it might be lengthened since the forecast calls for more severe weather to strike the New England coast.

The unit is also supporting a military engineering detachment and veterinarian detachment in place near COL Victory, and other federal and state first responders.

A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from McChord Field transported the unit and their equipment east, with the support of airmen from the 8th Airlift Squadron.