BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's not hurricane season yet, but that's not stopping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This week, the Vicksburg District of the Corps deployed to Keesler Air Force Base to train.
This is the first time the Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been deployed to Keesler Air Force Base since Hurricane Katrina.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works in response to FEMA and will deploy here only if ordered by the President of the United States in a disaster situation.
Call it a bittersweet homecoming, but it's necessary.
"It's really important for us to come in and knock the rust off, set up our communications system and get all those processes out there," said Col. John Cross, Army Corps of Engineers District Commander. "We really haven't worked real extensively since Katrina."
The technological core of that communication system is a portable satellite/Internet center. It's an invaluable resource that Katrina destroyed along with everything else.
Sam Horton, deputy of the recovery field office, was here during Katrina.
"We learned in that one that you set up on the front lines, and that helped us," Horton said. "We now have contracts that are put together before the disaster and have learned how to administer those better and be more efficient and effective."
On this day, it's not Katrina on shore. This time, it's Gabi. The 45 volunteers are being trained to figure out quickly who needs what and when.
The Corps provides engineering expertise and coordination for other vendors to provide debris removal, blue roof construction and temporary housing, among other services.
"Katrina taught us a lot of things," Horton said. "The main thing is organization, training. Having exercises like this is the best way to do things is to be on the ground, be productive from day one and how to best serve the community."