If you thought clearing your driveway during last week’s snowstorm was bad, try clearing nearly 1.2 million cubic feet of snow and ice. That’s enough to fill more than 13 Olympic-size swimming pools.
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employees at the Springfield, Virginia, campus with support from NGA’s West locations, worked around the clock Jan. 22 to Jan. 26 to clear snow, maintain building structural integrity and ensure there was no lapse in mission-critical support.
From the initial weather reports produced by the agency’s Meteorological Operations Center to the decision to return to normal operations, many employees were involved in efforts to ensure the safety and security of the workforce, visitors and facilities during the duration of the storm.
Don Kerr, an NGA spokesperson, credited exceptional emergency management preparedness, use of plans developed by the Key Components (KC), and good communication for the success during the snowstorm.
Although 24-hour watches and creating continuity plans are normal courses of activity for the NGA Operations Center, a historic snowstorm can throw a wrench in even the most structured plans.
“Using lessons from past exercises, allowed us to maintain the mission at a capacity that was acceptable,” said Kerr. “Preparation, exploring possible outcomes, and knowing our options has made us much more resilient for this type of situation.”
In anticipation of the storm, several NOC officers and technicians packed their ‘go-bags’ and cots, drove in, and worked through four day and night shifts. According to Jason Long, NOC deputy chief of operations, NGA employees in St. Louis, Missouri, and Denver, Colorado, provided overtime support to supplement the NOC Watch in the East.
Long commended the “heroic efforts” of the employees.
“Winter Storm Jonas resulted in extraordinary actions from individuals to execute our day-in and day-out ‘business as usual’,” said Long.
Across the agency, several KCs and directorates were also involved in executing mission-essential tasks.
The NOC Enterprise and the Security and Installations (SI) directorate prepared and maintained site readiness by coordinating across the agency to ensure snow and ice removal, addressing shipping and receiving requirements and impacts, and overseeing facility infrastructure operations. The Enterprise Service Center certified all IT services were functioning.
Police Operations Commander for NCE Maj. Dionyeus Britt said dozens of police officers worked through the snowstorm, most choosing to stay onsite during the 72 hours. Sodexo food service provided meals for those who decided to stay and weather the storm.
SI noted that, post-snowfall, employees worked to clear the more than two feet of snow and ice from the roads and parking garage, executed personnel accountability checks, examined the building for leaks, monitored IT impacts and expediently worked to reconstitute the workforce and return to normal operations.
“Even though the recent storm resulted in more than two feet of snow, everyone involved allowed for minimal to no impact to both the mission and the facilities.” said Kerr. “They support missions that simply cannot be interrupted.”