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On the Road to Recovery
09.09.05
 
Caring for people is the focus of NASA’s response to hurricane Katrina more than a week after the storm devastated the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast. Two NASA facilities, the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., and the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, are both located in the storm-ravaged region.

Water and fuel arrive at Stennis Space Center.Image to left: Much needed water and fuel arrive at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Photo credit: NASA

"Our top priority is helping our employees and their families and helping facilitate the massive relief effort being staged from Stennis by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Defense, and other agencies," said Bill Parsons, who is leading NASA’s hurricane recovery efforts. Parsons relocated to the Stennis Space Center from NASA Headquarters in Washington Monday to oversee recovery operations more closely.

For more than a week, Stennis has served as an emergency shelter for more than 3,500 people -- including area residents and employees and their families -- who safely rode out the hurricane and the initial aftermath at the center. The last of the area residents left Stennis yesterday for other, longer-term accommodations.

During the week, cafeteria and volunteer workers served approximately 9,000 meals a day to the evacuees at no charge.

The Stennis Occupational Health Clinic, which normally conducts employee physicals, provided primary and emergency care to the evacuees. Doctors and nurses from other NASA centers, as well as volunteer medical personnel including emergency medical teams from Florida, joined the clinic. They served between 90 and 150 patients a day and provided care to 32 special-needs patients. The clinic staff also administered more than 800 inoculations during the week to people at Stennis and provided 200 tetanus shots to people in the surrounding community.

After the storm passed, Stennis provided telephone service to enable evacuees to contact family members and arrange accommodations and provided fuel or offered bus transportation to enable stranded evacuees to leave the area.

Both Stennis and the Michoud Assembly Facility remain closed to normal business and a cadre of employees and contractors continue to assess the condition of the facilities, maintain essential infrastructure, begin initial recovery operations and facilitate other agency recovery operations.

"Our primary NASA mission here is on hold," said Parsons, "We are now supporting the recovery effort."

A call center has been established to help locate and assist NASA, contractor, and resident agency employees and their families. Employees who have not yet checked in with the call center, are asked to call 877-470-5240 toll-free, or 228-688-3777 to provide their status.

In addition, a website (http://www.nasa.gov/hurricane) and a toll-free telephone recording (888-362-4323) have been established for updates about general conditions at Stennis and Michoud.