Operation: Moonshine

PDF AAR Operation Moonshine


Operation name: Operation Moonshine

Duration: 4 days

Dates: 4/11/2013-4/14/2013

Locations: Van Buren County, Arkansas


Executive Summary


Paragraph 1: Pre-Deployment

On 4/10/13, Team Rubicon Region VI began to monitor a severe weather system that threatened the majority of the state of Arkansas and would later form an EF-2 tornado that caused severe damage to Van Buren County, Arkansas.   A Tornado Warning was issued for portions of Van Buren County at 409 pm CDT on 04/10/2013. This gave residents near Scotland (Van Buren County) close to 15 minutes to prepare for the tornado that eventually materialized. The EF-2 tornado tracked 17.4 miles and finally dissipated roughly 5 miles east-northeast of Botkinburg (Van Buren County). After the storm had passed, initial damage assessments were completed by local county officials and the need for Team Rubicon was confirmed. Water and electricity were cut off to several residents in the affected area and many were displaced to local hotels for several days. Trees and debris blocked roadways and severely damaged several homes.


Paragraph 2: Deployment

Team Rubicon prepared for deployment and activated volunteers from Texas and Arkansas. Lodging was quickly located at a church in Marshall, TX and on the evening of 4/11/13, teams out of Houston, Austin, and Dallas deployed to Marshall in order to join other Region VI Arkansas Team Rubicon volunteers. A total of 6 volunteers from Texas arrived in Marshall at approximately 0800 on 4/12/13 with a trailer full of supplies for the response. After set up and introductions, the Region VI team set out on the mission. Team Rubicon work consisted of Palantir assessments of over 50 properties, removal of trees and rearing of roofs.


Paragraph 3: Post-Deployment

Palantir assessments proved to a real asset to the community in their long-term recovery efforts. Working in Arkansas and other communities in the south take trust and effective communication; having a ‘local’ or someone from that region represent Team Rubicon on the ground to talk-the-talk will go a long way in establishing trust and a good working relationship. The crew worked hard and contributed positively to the community recovery efforts.


Roster (211 – Check-in Form)

Christian Vargas USMC

Sarah McCord

Michael Winders USAF

Ken Leung USA

Vanessa Vasquez

Joe Quinto USMC

Heather Hyslop

Mojo Denne

Chad Reynolds USMC

Shane ValVerde USMC

Akshay Krishnaswamy USAF

Brian Miller USA

Tugg Ledbetter USA

Tim Standridge USMC


Areas of Analysis

  • Transportation
  • Volunteers

The following list are the volunteers present within the initial 3 day response.

  1. Shane ValVerde – TX
  2. Joe Quinto – TX
  3. Chad Reynolds – AR
  4. Akshay Krishnaswamy – Palantir
  5. Brian Miller – Palantir
  6. Heather Hyslop – TX
  7. Vanessa Vasquez – TX
  8. Monique “Mojo” Denney – TX
  9. Christian Vargas – TX
  10. Sarah McCord – AR
  11. Ken Leung – AR
  12. Tugg Ledbetter – AR
  13. Michael Winders – AR
  14. Tim Standridge – AR


  • Logistics

A Logistics Officer (LO) was assigned on the first day of the response. Duties and responsibilities of the LO were not discussed with assigned person, causing misunderstanding of role. LO was also assigned as part of the medical team and was also given Operations responsibilities.

Logistics of getting lunch out to the team was a challenge the first two days of the response. Unanticipated communications failure caused a delay in lunch on response day one and a lack of delivery of lunch on day two. Lessons learned allowed for appropriate logistics for meals during onsite field operations on day three.

Some supplies ran out on day one of the response. During operations, the team was able to assess missing supplies and needed items were purchased on the evening of day 1 of the response.

  • Mission Objectives
    1. Site assessments within affected area utilizing Palantir Technology
    2. Aid in debris collection and clearing blocked areas surrounding homes
    3. Tarping damaged roofs for temporary relief
    4. Assisting homeowners with temporary repairs in order to improve current living conditions
  • Equipment

A tractor with bucket attachment was utilized to clear debris.


  • Safety
    1. Hydration during the response was a primary concern and plenty of water was provided for the team.
    2. Breaks encouraged throughout the response in order to prevent exhaustion. Standard OSHA work/rest ratio dependent on site conditions (i.e. temperature, humidity, work load, sun exposure, air movement). During response, conditions called for work/rest ratio of 40/20 minutes.
    3. Weather discussed in order to determine if any weather conditions may be hazardous. Possible concerns were windy conditions and possible showers at one point of the response.
    4. Overconfidence and complacency. Although volunteer may be experienced, the volunteers must remain aware of the task and safety concerns with each task, operation of equipment, and use of supplies. With new volunteers present, inexperience slightly increases risk of injury. Awareness of surroundings is highly important.
    5. Sun protection
      1. Long sleeves
      2. Sunblock application
  • Hats
  1. Safety at or above 8 feet from ground:
    1. Fall protection for rooftop repairs (harnesses, communication, buddy systems, caribiners)
    2. Teams to discuss rooftop repair protocol PRIOR to getting on roof.
  • Transfer of supplies from ground to roof, those on ground need head protection to protect from items possibly falling from roof.
  1. Proper Personal Protective Equipment (Gloves, ear protection, eye protection, hardhat, chaps, steel toe boots)
  2. Chainsaw safety including:
    1. Proper form and operation of chainsaws
    2. Chainsaw operator and swamper working together to prevent injuries
  • Chainsaw operator awareness of surrounding area
  1. Eye contact with operator on tractor, staying out of equipment’s red zone
  2. Environmental concerns including:
    1. Snakes and local wildlife concerns
    2. Trips and falls among debris and creeks
  • Overhead dangers
  1. Poisonous flora
  • Security
  • Medical
    1. Team asked to provide any individual medical concerns
    2. Medical team identified
      1. Medical Team Lead – Sarah McCord
      2. Assistant Medical – Mojo Denney
    3. Discovered medical equipment needs several new supplies
  • Communication
  • Media
  • Fundraising


Lessons Learned & Key Actions


Lessons Learned

  • Good to have a ‘local’ who can establish credibility and trust.
  • Teams must be prepared to operate in a mobile fashion when work orders are spread out and the team is a small unit operating as one.


Key Actions


Over 50 Palatir assessments conducted, trees removed, and roofs rehabbed.


Operational Capabilities Analysis



  1. TASK / CAPABILITY: Transportation

OBSERVATION: Team Rubicon (TR) van capable to carry up to 11 people; two TR dual cabin pickups, one personal dual cabin pickup

Issues with trailer hitch

RECOMMENDATION: Obtain a hitch that is versatile to fit all size trucks and heights.

  1. TASK / CAPABILITY: Volunteers

OBSERVATION: Volunteers from Texas deployed on 4/11/13. Points of origin for Texas volunteers include, Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Texas volunteers joined with other Region IV volunteers from Arkansas. Due to close proximity of the disaster to Arkansas volunteers, some arrived at a later date and time or had to demobilize from the response earlier than anticipated due to unexpected personal circumstances. Two Palantir staff also participated in the initial response to provide their software for electronic data collection during the initial days of the response.

  1. TASK / CAPABILITY: Safety

OBSERVATION: Imperative to have a proper safety briefing especially related to injuries and chainsaw use.

RECOMMENDATION: Develop training related to proper chainsaw use, spotting and maintenance.

  1. TASK / CAPABILITY: Planning

OBSERVATION: Use of Palantir was helpful in the planning process and good for the local government to use the data for long-term recovery efforts.

RECOMMENDATION: Continue working on turning over Palantir data results to the local community for long-term efforts.

  1. TASK / CAPABILITY: Resources

OBSERVATION: Chainsaw safety/PPE is a necessity.

RECOMMENDATION: Ensure there is enough PPE for all workers.

ACTION: (purchased during later operations)

  1. TASK / CAPABILITY: Operations
  2. TASK / CAPABILITY: Security
  3. TASK / CAPABILITY: Medical

OBSERVATION: Ensure all team members know how to and when to report medical issues.

RECOMMENDATION: Safety briefing should be thorough and include what to do in the case of injury or illness.

  2. TASK / CAPABILITY: Funding/Fundraising