Most employees at the Hampton VA Medical Center (VAMC) had hoped that they would be spared from Mother Nature’s annual visit, but that was not to be the case. Hurricane Sandy, dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’ paid the Hampton Roads area an extended visit a few days before Halloween. It wasn’t the rain that caused most problems, rather it was tidal flooding that surprised many area residents.
The Hampton VAMC Incident Command Center swung into action monitoring weather reports that were tracking Hurricane Sandy. Not knowing where the monster storm would make landfall, it was apparent to everyone that Mother Nature would be knocking on the door at the Hampton VAMC.
“We are better prepared this year than we have been in many years,” said Benita Stoddard, acting medical center director. “We are going to shelter-in-place this time. With the amount of improvements made across the medical center since Hurricane Irene, we are definitely prepared.”
In years past, the main electrical switch, located away from the water’s edge, remained vulnerable to flooding. A new electrical switch was installed at the Hampton VAMC after Hurricane Irene. The new power grid is thirteen feet above sea level. “We would really be in trouble if it flooded now,” said Scott Brown, acting associate director for operations. “Power shouldn’t be a problem this time ~ but as unpredictable as these storms can be, we have contingency plans in-place to make sure our Veterans and employees are safe.”
High winds and steady rain continued in the Hampton Roads area beginning Saturday night and continued through Tuesday. Frankenstorm’s 7-foot high tides caused flooding throughout the area, but the medical center had only minor issues.
“Our number one priority is the safety and well-being of our Veterans,” said Stoddard. “I am proud of our staff ~ once again, they joined together as a team during the storm to care for America’s Veterans.”