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MCLB housing Isaac evacuees

Dr. Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, gives an update on Tropical Storm Isaac at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Monday. Tropical Storm Isaac targeted a broad swath of the Gulf Coast on Monday and had New Orleans in its crosshairs, bearing down just ahead of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, gives an update on Tropical Storm Isaac at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Monday. Tropical Storm Isaac targeted a broad swath of the Gulf Coast on Monday and had New Orleans in its crosshairs, bearing down just ahead of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

photo

Jennifer Parks

Tents for showering are set up outside warehouses at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany Monday for Marines and sailors evacuating Naval Air Station Pensacola due to Tropical Storm Isaac.

MCLB-ALBANY, Ga. — When storms come in, even the country’s servicemembers can be displaced.

Late Monday, buses carrying Marines and sailors from Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida arrived at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany to escape the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac’s arrival.

Anywhere between 4,000-4,800 personnel were expected to be evacuated to the installation, said 1st Lt. Kyle Thomas, public affairs officer for MCLB-Albany, on Monday afternoon.

Due to the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac’s impending landfall between the panhandle of Florida and the Louisiana Gulf Coast, the decision was made Sunday evening for the Pensacola personnel to evacuate, base officials say.

MCLB activated its base Emergency Operations Center in preparation for the incoming personnel.

The Marines and sailors are being housed in warehouses with cots to sleep on. Tents have been set up outside the warehouses for the personnel to use as showers. Separate sections have been set up for males and females.

The majority of the evacuees are students, Thomas said. The quarters have been set up so that there is roughly 20 square feet per person.

“It’s not the most ideal, but we want to make sure they have a safe environment,” he said.

Preparations for the possible arrival of storm evacuees began Thursday evening, Thomas said.

The displaced personnel will remain at MCLB-Albany until the weather passes and it is safe for them to return to their homes, which will likely be in the next two or three days, base officials say.

In the event of destructive weather, military installations have agreements with each other in case a base’s occupants have to evacuate. In the past, MCLB has made similar accommodations for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island — as well as for Naval Air Station Pensacola when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Thomas said.

In the event MCLB has to evacuate, there are other installations available to assist them — but usually the military personnel in Albany get lucky.

“We are usually the host,” Thomas said. “Since we are just enough distance away from the coast, that usually is the case.

“We are proud and happy to support evacuees.”

Forecasts available from the National Hurricane Center Monday evening showed Tropical Storm Isaac to be moving northwest at 10 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale for a Category 1 hurricane is 74-95 miles per hour.

Predictions have Isaac hitting the northern Gulf Coast late today and into Wednesday, with the strongest impact near New Orleans, Gulfport, Miss. and Mobile, Ala.

Depending on the precise moment of landfall, Isaac will hit the Gulf Coast seven years to the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana while on a path similar to the one Isaac is following.