MCLB prepares for extra military guests - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

MCLB prepares for extra military guests

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

September 3, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Tropical Storm Hanna has the Marine Corps Logistics Base on guard. The Albany base may have to house thousands of evacuees if Hanna pounds the South Carolina coast.

MCLB Albany has an agreement with Parris Island to take in Marine recruits during an emergency. They're at attention and ready.

An emergency operations center is now set up at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. People are on phones and pens are busy on paper.  It's all because of a storm named Hanna.

"The base was notified that we could possibly be hosting evacuees in the next few days," said Lt. Caleb Eames, MCLB Public Information Officer.

Up to 8,500 recruits and supporting staff members from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina could be hopping on busses to head here to Albany. "The commander there at Parris Island has a tough decision to make. He has to weigh the safety of his recruits versus the difficulty of getting them here," said Eames.

That tough decision hasn't been made just yet but plans are being put in place at MCLB just in case. "We're making sure the facilities are ready to go, the bedding and cots and linen are all staged, that we have water for them to drink," said Eames.

Marines are writing out lists on boards and plenty of warehouses are available to house the potential thousands headed here from the coast. "The building behind me, one of our warehouses here, actually has five acres of floor under cover. It makes it a great space to put a lot of people at one time should the need arise," said Eames.

The need has come up in the past.  Hundreds of Marines from Pensacola had to be housed at MCLB back in 2004 and 2005 after storms threatened Florida.  But it's been some time since the memorandum with Parris Island has been enacted.

"The last time we provided this kind of support was back in 1999, about 9 or 10 years ago now so it's good to still be considered a primary safe haven for people who might be in harm's way," said Eames.

Lieutenant Eames says they're ready. "We're proud to do our part in a situation like this," said Eames.

If the situation gets worse from Hanna, the recruits could begin taking the 8-hour trip as early as Thursday.

7,000 recruits from Parris Island stayed at the base for 5 days back in 1999. If evacuated this time, training would remain their priority at MCLB as they ride out the storm.

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