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MacDill NCO 0-2 dodging storms

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer
Graphic by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
 

When Hurricane Charley was bearing down on Tampa Bay last year Staff Sgt. Tasha Nero of the 6th Security Forces Squadron evacuated like so many others.

She went to Kissimmee. So did Charley.

After the numerous encounters and close calls with Florida hurricanes last year, Sergeant Nero looked forward to getting out of the state this hurricane season. She was TDY cross training at Keesler Air Force Base when she realized that once again she was smack in the path of another hurricane disaster - one nasty storm called Katrina.

"It was overwhelming," said Sergeant Nero, who returned to MacDill recently.

Having looked out her front door at the aftermath of a hurricane for the second time in about a year, she said this storm was worse than Charley.

"It was basically breathtaking," she said. "I didn't expect it to be that bad."

Sergeant Nero rode out the storm on base, sheltered at a building on relatively high ground on the Biloxi, Miss., Base. When the sun rose, she and the others sheltered there, found they were on an island.

"We were completely surrounded by water," she said.

Martial law was declared and no one was allowed to leave the building, she said. A couple days later they were allowed to move around the base provided they traveled in pairs and wore boots. Debris was everywhere, the vice commander's house on base blew up in a gas explosion and fires were dotting the landscape.

"It was a sight," she said.

When she and others were told they were free to leave a couple of days later, Sergeant Nero decided to stick around and help with recovery. She spent some time guarding homes and helping watch the children of base personnel who were trying to get a handle on the damage to their homes and offices.

On Sept. 3 she drove out of Biloxi and back to MacDill. Training at the Air Force's premier communications and electronics school to become a 3A, she said it is not known where and when she will be able to finish her schooling.

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