Hurricane Matthew no match for MacDill relief mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr.
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

In response to Hurricane Matthew, the 6th Force Support Squadron (FSS) at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, wasted little time springing into action to provide comfort and support to those displaced by the storm.

On Oct. 6-7, 2016, more than 150 evacuees traveled through MacDill’s gates seeking refuge at the MacDill Inn. The 6th FSS staff immediately called in additional personnel to ensure they could provide assistance to those in need.

“Many of the people that arrived were very distraught,” said Susan Long, Airman and Family Services Flight Chief assigned to the 6th FSS. “We are here to support and put these families at ease.”

Despite certain quarters being reserved for military personnel, the 6th FSS staff did not hesitate to open all available rooms to the evacuees. Additionally, the inn distributed cots and extra blankets for those in need.

“We had temporary living facilities that were not available, but opened them two days early,” said Mili Teliferro, general manager of the MacDill Inn. “If people showed up without reservations we didn’t turn anyone away, we made it work. We were able to support 100 percent.”

In support, personnel from the Airman and Family Readiness Center (AFRC) and representatives from the United Services Organizations (USO) center Tampa Bay provided resources such as snacks, information, stuffed animals and emotional support.

“Everyone has been so grateful,” said Amy Phillips, manager of the USO center Tampa Bay. “We want to bring an extra smile to these families because they’re going through a tough time.”

As a bonus, various entities around the base welcomed evacuees to enjoy their amenities free of charge. The MacDill Lanes Bowling Alley provided free shoes and games, the Youth Center opened its gymnasium to provide displaced children with a place to play, and a free movie was offered at the base theater.

“The stuff for the kids is awesome,” said Rachel Reda, a military spouse from Melbourne, Florida. “We’re grateful that they [MacDill] have stepped up and provided us a place to stay.”

According to Teliferro, people have expressed to her their never-ending gratitude for the support the 6th FSS has provided.

"When forces of nature hit, it's easy to accept defeat and give into fear.  My team knew that and they jumped into action to make sure every displaced person knew they were valued,” said Lt. Col. Serigo Rios, commander of the 6th FSS. “Most of these folks left their homes uncertain of what they would return to; the least we could do here is provide them with some semblance of certainty -- and that's that they are cared for and we're here to help them when things look bleak."