Evacuation expenses due today
by Nick Stubbs
Base Theater holding briefings for personnel who relocated
Hurricane Charley displaced at least 2,000 MacDill residents and if you were one of them with travel vouchers to claim, today is the day to turn them in.
1st Lt. Dave Adams, financial services officer with the 6th Comptroller Squadron, says special briefings today at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. at the Base Theater are where you need to be if you want to be reimbursed for travel and lodging resulting from the evacuation of the base last week. The voucher briefings were also held Wednesday and Thursday.
Even as Hurricane Charley was approaching, the decision was made that expenses for the evacuations incurred by military and civilian residents of MacDill would be covered, said Lieutenant Adams. While there are limits to the amount allowed, if expenses incurred were not out of the ordinary or excessive, 100 percent of out-of-pocket costs likely will be reimbursed, he said.
"We got fortunate (in that the storm missed the Tampa area)," said Lieutenant Adams, but that doesn't mean there isn't a substantial aftermath for MacDill. The finance office normally deals with no more than 150 travel vouchers a day. By end of today, as many as 3,500 may be waiting for processing, he said.
"We have been going pretty much around the clock since Thursday (last week)," said Lieutenant Adams. "We've been able to handle it well so far."
Part of the reason is Air Mobility Command dispatched eight financial personnel to MacDill this week to assist with the work. They were scheduled to help through today and all are "knowledgeable with a lot of experience" said Lieutenant Adams.
"They have really been helping a lot with this process and they have a lot of good answers," he said.
Lieutenant Adams said most people who evacuated fled Tampa, which was spared, and ended up staying inland in areas hit by the Category 4 storm. With the evacuation ordered Aug. 12, most spent at least one night off the base, with most spending Friday night away, as well. The evacuation was lifted at 10 p.m. Aug. 13, he said.
Anyone with expenses to claim should have their receipts and be prepared to fill out forms at the briefings. Those evacuees who went TDY or otherwise are not available for the voucher briefings may file for reimbursement at the Financial Services Office when they return or may contact the office to find out how to proceed.
Lieutenant Adams said at this point he is not aware of any MacDill residents who fell prey to opportunists who jacked up prices illegally for motel rooms or supplies, as has been reported in some instances. It would be unfortunate if it happened, he said, but the voucher policy being applied only would allow for reasonable and fair expenses to be reimbursed.