Craig’s ready to roll

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

The loud roar of diesel engines echoed around the Highway 41 entrance to Craig Field Industrial Park on Thursday. Large tractor trailer trucks came and went through the park at a constant pace, all of them hauling food, supplies, building materials and medical equipment to hurricane disaster areas.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, along with staff from other government agencies working at the site, had to talk with raised voices above all the commotion and looked worn after hours spent in the sun.

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Rows and rows of trucks were parked along the length of a former aircraft landing strip at the back of Craig Field, each of them filled with supplies such as water, ice, MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) and medical equipment

Some of the trucks are loaded with building materials and large air-conditioned tents.

“After supplies are purchased, it goes through here,” said FEMA’s site manager Jeff Bezore. “We break it down into smaller shipments and send it out.”

Bezore estimated that so far 800 trucks have come through FEMA’s Craig Field station to get supplies. From Craig, they are sent to places as close as Maxwell Air Force base in Montgomery to military bases in Mississippi and Louisiana.

“The truck drivers are from all over. They are a patriotic group of folks,” Bezore said.

Bezore said there is a lot of coordination between FEMA and the damaged states in organizing relief efforts to disaster victims.

“States have to say ‘I need this much,’ then we keep the pipeline going,” he said.

Before FEMA can become involved in any disaster recovery efforts, Bezore said, state governors have to get the U.S. President to sign a disaster declaration.

Once FEMA has its orders to get the ball rolling, they go straight to work.

“We handle all hazards, including tornadoes, floods, fires or terrorists attacks,” Bezore said. “Our focus is on preparedness-with training and stocking supplies-response and recovery.”

Bezore said he has a small staff at Craig Field that puts in long hours and spends weeks away from home, but they all take a lot of pride in their work.

“There is just something satisfying about (helping pe). That’s what its all about,” he said.