Civilian workers honored for work on hurricane relief efforts

They raised their hands and volunteered to help in the military regions left devastated by Hurricane Katrina and on Wednesday those 11 local Navy civilians were honored for their support.

The team left on Sept. 5 and 6 and served as emergency responders for Navy Region Northwest. They aided in disaster relief at Naval Air Station in Meridian, Miss. and Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, also in Mississippi.

Mike Fagan, westsound housing director, was one of six personnel from Naval Base Kitsap to answer the call.

“To be able to help them at all was rewarding,” he said.

Also from Naval Base Kitsap were Bev Barron, Britt Feldman, Elaine Winters, Beth Dunklin and Darlene Reysack. Four personnel from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and one from Naval Air Station Everett also responded to the request for volunteers.

The team of 11 joined together to help the sailors and their families, who in many cases, were left with nothing.

“We made sure they had a place to sleep and food to eat,” Fagan said. “We helped a lot of civilians ... a lot were retired Navy. We put them in contact with as many resources as we could.”

And many times, he adds, it was just talking to people and being there for them. He was happy to see the military response in those areas.

“The military really responded, everywhere you went you saw Seabees working,” he said.

Not only did the mission help those in need, but it also brought the group of 11 together.

“It was interesting, a lot of us slept in one big room, some people we knew and some people we didn’t,” Fagan said. “It was a good mix, a good team.”

At Wednesday’s ceremony, each member of the team was honored with an award, command coin and $500.

“Their outstanding performance, motivation and housing expertise significantly contributed to the success of the disaster recovery operations,” stated Rear Adm. William French on the award certificate. “Their professionalism and devotion to duty reflected credit upon themselves and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

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