May 11, 2011
According to information made available from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), a NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic employee and Gloucester County, Va., resident volunteered with the Gloucester Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) after a “long track” F2 tornado ripped through his community April 16th.
Darren Davis, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Public Works Department (PWD) Norfolk’s Base Support Vehicles and Equipment Services transportation director, chose to work with the CERT because it allowed him to use the training he received while serving in the Navy and as a Civil Engineer Corps chief warrant officer.
“Gloucester is a family-friendly community and your neighbors are more like family than most of your relatives,” said Davis. “I knew I couldn’t let the training and experience I had gained in the 23 years of service in the Navy be something that served me for only those 23 years.”
Davis, who took a week of annual leave to volunteer for this effort, arrived on site April 16th just moments after the tornado struck Page Middle School and could not believe a twister of such magnitude was capable of hitting Gloucester.
“I immediately knew this would be a monumental effort to support initial disaster relief efforts and then transition to disaster recovery operation,” Davis said. “The debris field was massive; school buses overturned, the school itself was ripped to shreds and the athletic fields were covered in trees, brush and trash.”
Safety was a paramount concern, so Davis’ first effort as the CERT operations chief and team leader was to support the Virginia State Police and Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department in conducting traffic control around the debris and downed power lines. He then coordinated with Gloucester County Emergency Services to assemble chainsaw teams to open primary roadways such as Hickory Fork Road, Cedar Bush Road and T.C. Walker Road to allow emergency vehicles to pass through and respond to tornado victims.
The morning after the storm, Davis helped establish an operations and logistics research center where he coordinated crew deployments and delivery of supplies throughout the community. For the next week, a typical day for Davis consisted of making continuous assessments, answering phone calls and ensuring the orderly flow of information so requests could be answered within minutes.