Tag Archives: emergency management

North Carolina | Weathering the Storms: Improving NC’s ability to respond – Part 1

Note: This is the first article in a four-part series remembering some of North Carolina’s most noteable hurricanes while highlighting some of the progress our state has made since to ensure we are better prepared for such storms. 

Part 1: Learning from the Past

Sixty years ago, the United States was on the verge of entering the conflict in Vietnam. Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio. Godzilla premiered in Tokyo. And North Carolina experienced one of the worst weather-related disasters in its history.

2014 marks the 60th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel, a Category 4 storm at landfall that was one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes to date. It caused 19 deaths, 200 injuries and an estimated $1.2 billion in property damage in North Carolina alone. With wind speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, storm surge as high as a two-story building and a 2,000 mile path of destruction, Hurricane Hazel ruined or damaged 54,000 homes and structures in the tarheel state.

Yet, Hurricane Hazel was merely the first of many notable storms to wreak havoc on North Carolina’s towns and communities. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo made landfall in Charleston, S.C. as a Category 4 storm that remained powerful even as it traveled inland. By the time it reached Charlotte, it was downgraded to a tropical storm but its destructive winds caused seven deaths and left behind more than $1 billion in damages.

The most infamous storm in recent history was Hurricane Floyd which made landfall at Cape Fear Sept. 16, 1999. The slow-moving storm dumped 7 to 20 inches of rain on much of eastern North Carolina causing more widespread flooding in areas that had received 15 inches of rain from Hurricane Dennis less than two weeks before. In fact, nearly every river basin in the eastern part of the state topped 500-year flood levels because of the back-to-back hurricanes. In all, Hurricane Floyd caused 52 deaths and $5.5 billion in damage destroying 7,000 homes and damaging 56,000 others.

Ten years ago, the back-to-back Hurricanes Frances and Ivan each dropped about 15 inches of rain in the North Carolina mountains. Record amounts of rain caused numerous landslides and toppled trees. Following Hurricane Frances, swiftwater rescue teams pulled more than 200 residents from flooded vehicles and homes.

“As a state, we have made major strides in the past 15 years in regard to emergency planning and preparedness,” said Mike Sprayberry, state Emergency Management director. “We have cultivated stronger partnerships, developed more comprehensive plans and created preparedness tools like the ReadyNC mobile app to help anyone in North Carolina plan, prepare and stay informed. It’s important to see where we have been to know how far North Carolina’s emergency management program has come.”

Hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides and floods will all continue to impact North Carolina. State and local emergency managers have learned from each event and use those lessons to improve planning and response capabilities. These improvements enhance the state and county’s ability to respond, keeping people safe and saving lives.

NZ | Hawke’s Bay wide Civil Defence Plan helps prepare region

A new region-wide emergency management plan has been developed to help the Hawke’s Bay community be more prepared for a civil defence emergency.

The Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Plan has been developed over the last 18 months. It replaces the previous plan and takes a more region-wide approach to preparedness.

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Joint Committee Chairman Fenton Wilson says the plan covers the entire region from the Wairoa district to Central Hawke’s Bay and focuses on a more coordinated approach to planning for a civil defence emergency.

“The Group Plan has been primarily written to guide and inform those involved in civil defence planning in the region; however it also gives the public a good view of how hazards and risks in the region will be managed,” says Mr Wilson.

“We encourage people to find out more about the main hazards in the region and what they and their communities can do to prepare.”

The plan was developed with the help of Hawke’s Bay’s five councils, emergency services, central government and non-government partners, such as Red Cross.

Mr Wilson says the new plan incorporates lessons learnt from recent disasters, such as the Canterbury earthquakes and a 2010 review of Hawke’s Bay’s civil defence capability.

“The plan seeks to achieve a more resilient Hawke’s Bay through comprehensive emergency management that covers reducing the risk from hazards, community readiness for events, its response to a disaster and recovery from the impacts of a disaster.”

The plan is available at www.hbemergency.govt.nz

NZ | National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan released for consultation

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye is inviting civil defence agencies, other organisations and the public to make written submissions on the draft revised National Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Plan from today.

“The National CDEM Plan is required by law, and sets out the hazards and risks to be managed at the national level. It also sets out the civil defence emergency management roles and responsibilities of central government, CDEM Groups and other agencies such as lifeline utilities, emergency services and non-government organisations,” Ms Kaye says.

The current National CDEM Plan has been in force since 1 July 2006. Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, the Plan must be reviewed every five years.

The review of the Plan was underway at the time of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. This meant that the review was delayed by the need for agencies to respond to the earthquakes.  Several reviews of the response were undertaken to further ensure that New Zealand’s CDEM arrangements are optimal, and in keeping with international best practice.

“It is important that we do not allow ourselves to become complacent.  The review has ensured that our arrangements are robust, current and well understood by the agencies responsible for their delivery,” Ms Kaye says.

“I have chosen to open this consultation from Kaiapoi today in recognition of the significant impact that the earthquakes had on our communities.

“As a result of the Christchurch earthquakes, the draft Plan is now stronger, and includes key recommendations from the independent reviews that have been held. Changes include strengthening areas of the draft Plan such as welfare arrangements, the roles and responsibilities of key agencies, and post-disaster building management.”

The draft revised Plan released today incorporates feedback from agencies with arrangements in the Plan, such as emergency services, lifeline utilities and central and local government.

“I would like to thank the many agencies who have been involved this work. I am confident that draft revised Plan is a much improved and comprehensive document as a result of their hard work,” Ms Kaye says.

“Our ability to recover from a major emergency will be greatly enhanced by the revised plan.

“Now is the time for all organisations and the public to have their say on the draft revised National CDEM Plan.”

Consultation is open from today, 23 May, until 5pm 25 July 2014. The draft revised National CDEM Plan, a summary of amendments, and the submission form can be found online.

NZ | Shortest Ever Disaster Movie back for another year

Hawke’s Bay school students are being urged to get their creative minds into gear and take part in this year’s Shortest Ever Disaster Movie competition.

The competition, run by the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, invites schools to create a short film, focussing on being prepared for a civil defence emergency.

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Manager Ian Macdonald says this year’s theme is “What would you do?”.

“We are encouraging students to consider different emergency situations and how they would react, with the aim of educating people about how to prepare for a civil defence emergency,” says Mr Macdonald.

“The competition is a fun way for schools to also strengthen their own civil defence preparedness and awareness among staff and students.”

Schools interested in taking part need to register at www.hbemergency.govt.nz, where they will also find out more details about the competition and be able to view previous winners. This year prizes will be awarded in three categories: primary, intermediate and secondary.

Schools need to register by Wednesday June 4 and all entries need to be in by Wednesday 3 September, with prize giving on Wednesday 17 September. The winning entries will be available to view during Get Ready Week – 21 – 27 September 2014.

Vermont | Govt officials review flooding

Coming off an all-night flood watch across the state that closed bridges and roadways, Gov. Peter Shumlin today thanked Vermont’s state and local emergency and transportation crews for another difficult shift protecting Vermonters from a powerful weather event.

In addition, the Governor warned that while flood waters are receding today in most regions, the water level on Lake Champlain will continue to rise in the coming days and weeks.

“Our local and state law enforcement, search and rescue crews, transportation teams and so many others have been working around the clock to notify people in vulnerable areas of the danger, help them locate and reach safety, and then clean up and begin emergency repairs in the wake of the storm,” Gov. Shumlin said, standing with emergency and transportation officials in the state Emergency Operations Center in Waterbury.

The Governor noted the pressure the state’s Agency of Transportation (AOT) has been under this year, forced to deal with a long, harsh winter season that required significant road clearing, and now repair of the damage created by frost heaves and winter buckling, in addition to this spring flooding.

Gov. Shumlin and AOT Deputy Secretary Sue Minter released a letter today to Congressional leaders calling for full funding of the Highway Trust Fund, noting that while this money helps keep states’ transportation networks safe for the traveling public, it also leads to the job creation that is enabling states like Vermont continue to pull out of the recent recession.

“Every $1 million of transportation funding supports 35 jobs in Vermont, through the construction and maintenance of our transportation infrastructure,” the Governor wrote to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Federal transportation funds therefore help keep employed thousands of hard working Vermonters. Well maintained roads and bridges literally carry Vermont’s world famous products to market and drive tourists from all over the world to our small towns, big mountains and scenic lakes.”

The Governor said Vermont’s Congressional Delegation has worked hard to secure full funding of the Trust Fund. “I appreciate the hard work of Sens. Leahy and Sanders and Rep. Welch in fighting for these critical funds,” he said. “This money is an imperative for Vermont.”

“Without a resolution to this fiscal dilemma Vermont will not be able to fund much-needed road, bridge, rail and transit programs that are critical every year but especially this year following a particularly harsh winter,” the Governor wrote to Boehner and Reid. “At a time when we’re working hard to create jobs and grow economic opportunity, prompt Congressional action is critical.”

“Our VTrans crews once again showed their dedication by working around the clock to protect safe travel on our roads through both flooding and snow,” said Sue Minter, Deputy Secretary of AOT. “This sort of critical public service is exactly why we need Congress to get the message that funding for transportation is essential both to ensure safety on our roadways, and to keep our economy moving.”

This latest flooding has added pressure to the AOT budget, keeping crews working 24-7 to handle trouble spots statewide. Although ice jams have melted, AOT crews were worried about debris posing threats to culverts, bridges and other structures, as well.

Numerous roads around the state were closed due to high water (see list below; roads are reopening now, for latest closures visit http://vtransmaps.vermont.gov/VTrans511/511listing.asp), and several families were evacuated. The Red Cross sheltered four families in the Barton and Leicester area in a motel for the night, and a local shelter in Lyndonville housed six people.

State and local emergency personnel said flooding along the shores of Lake Champlain will be minor to moderate, but it will affect those closest to its shores. Property owners are encouraged to prepare now for possible high water to mitigate damages to homes and other property.

• Move objects like lawn or beach furniture, children’s toys, and other things that can float away to higher ground. Objects like those can pollute the lake and create hazards to boaters.

• Anchor fuel tanks – particularly if your home is close to the lake and likely to be flooded.

• If your home is flooded and you need to evacuate, turn off the electricity in your home and have a professional inspect the electrical system before you return.

State Road Closures Over the Course of the Storm (many have or are reopening):

Rt 15 will be closed due to flooding at the wrong way bridge in Cambridge.

Maidstone State Highway VT 14, MM 1.1

RT 109 from RT 108 to Waterville is Closed for flooding.

Rt 122 at intersection of 114 and US 5 Lyndon is now Closed due to flooding.

RT 118 Berkshire near jct. of RT 105 Closed for flooding.

Evening Folks, route 242 is closed, the squash pipe has failed to center line. Road closed signs are being put out and someone will be posted.

Rt 105 between Berkshire and Richford closed due flooding

RT 100 Lowell, RT 5 St J Center and RT 128 Essex all closed in usual spots along with RT 14 in So. Randolph.

RT 110 in Tunbridge Closed due to flooding, this should be short. Rt 105 Sheldon between RT 236 and Rt 120 Closed for flooding

RT 100 Closed in Troy now for flooding, but open again in Lowell.

Route 102 in Lemington about a mile north of the Columbia Bridge. Closed due to high water.

Local Road Closures

Belvidere: VT-109 at Lost Meadow Road Belvidere – culvert has washed out

Brandon: Wheeler road between Stone Mill Dam Rd and Route 73 – closed

Brookfield: Macredey Rd – closed

Brunswick: VT-102 just north of Maidstone Lake Access Rd – closed

Cambridge: VT-108 at the Wrongway Bridge – closed;

Williamson Road at Bryce – closed; Pumpkin Harbor Rd. – closed

Charlotte: Greenbush Road at the railroad over pass – closed

Chelsea: VT-110 in Chelsea Village – closed

Corinth: Brook Rd at the junction of Cookeville Rd – closed

Coventry: Main St – closed

Duxbury: Crossett Hill Rd. – closed; Mountain View Rd and Scrabble Hill Rd. – down to 1 lane; Heart Rd at River Rd – down to 1 lane

Eden: Blakeville Road at Cooper Hill Road – has water running over it; VT-100 near Boy Scout Camp – has water going over the roadway and is down to one lane

Essex: VT-128 between two bridges – closed

Enosburg: VT-105 Smith Flats Rd – closed

Jay: VT-242 between Jay Village and VT-100 – closed

Jericho: Governor Peck Road, flat area before bad curve 2/3 way up from VT-117 – has water running over it, down to one lane; 150 Browns Trace Road Jericho – has water running over it

Lowell: VT-100 in south of Buckhill and north of Carter Rd – closed

Lyndon: US-5 and VT VT-122 – closed; VT-114/Stevens Loop and Pudding Hill – closed; Park St & Center St – closed; Red Village Rd. – closed

Randolph: VT-14 near the Brickyard Farm is closed

Richford: VT-118 by Woodward Neighborhood Rd – closed

Richmond: Bridge St. – closed

St. Johnsbury: US-2 at Severance Hill Rd St down to one lane; 1320 US-5 Closed just north of Hospital Dr. Traffic detoured to Depot Hill.

Sheldon: VT-105 water over the road; VT-2 Jonesville water over road

Troy: RT 100 – Closed

Underhill: Dumas Road – has water running over it; Poker Hill Road at North Underhill Station Road – closed

Victory: Victory Hill Rd, Masten Rd and River Rd in Victory are closed

West Topsham: VT-25 at Kimball Hill – closed

Williston: North Williston Road is closed due to flooding

The public can receive weather updates through VT Alert. You can sign up for a free account at http://vtalert.gov and click on the link on the left.

Weather forecasts:

Flood gauges: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfobtv

National Weather Service Albany (Forecast office for Bennington and Windham counties): http://www.weather.gov/aly/

National Weather Service Burlington (Rest of Vermont): http://www.weather.gov/btv/

Road conditions: www.511vt.com

Social media:

VT DEMHS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vermontemergencymanagement

VT DEMHS on Twitter: @vemvt … https://twitter.com/vemvt

Vermont 511 on Twitter: @511vt … https://twitter.com/511VT

VTrans on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/VTrans/143848835653728

Vermont State Police on Twitter: @VTStatePolice … https://twitter.com/VTStatePolice

Vermont State Police on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VermontStatePolice

NWS Burlington: https://www.facebook.com/US.NationalWeatherService.Burlington.gov on Facebook or @NWSBurlington on Twitter

NWS Albany: https://www.facebook.com/US.NationalWeatherService.Albany.gov on Facebook or @NWSAlbany on Twitter

Resource needs: 2-1-1

Alabama | Disaster Preparedness Survey to be conducted April 14-16 in Marengo County

Representatives from the Alabama Department of Public Health will be conducting a countywide disaster preparedness survey on Monday, April 14, Tuesday, April 15, and Wednesday, April 16.

The survey is a collaborative effort of the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Marengo County Health Department, and the Marengo County Emergency Management Agency.

Teams of two people will be conducting the survey which will consist of door-to-door interviews. Households will be randomly selected to participate in the survey. All surveyors will have ID badges and will be wearing white vests. The disaster survey will take less than 15 minutes. No personal information will be collected.

“We ask for and thank you for your support,” Public Health Area 7 Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Barbara Etheridge said. “The information from this disaster survey will greatly aid the Marengo County Health Department and Emergency Management Agency in the future for disaster planning for the county.”

New South Wales | Emergency management exercise register launched

Conducting well prepared and coordinated exercises, in addition to testing emergency plans and Standing Operating Procedures, leads to better mutual understanding and cooperation between the various components of the State’s emergency management structure.

Exercises are conducted at a region and state level and may be agency specific or multi-agency.

Multi-agency Emergency Management and Rescue Exercises in NSW scheduled for 2014 are now available on this website.

More on the Exercise Register

NZ | Civil Defence welcomes Statistics NZ preparedness data

Statistics New Zealand survey results released today confirm the trend of more and more households being prepared for emergencies but, overall, the total is still low.

The Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, John Hamilton, said the Ministry’s annual preparedness survey carried out since 2006 shows the same pattern. The Ministry’s 2013 survey showed, nation-wide, 17 per cent of households were fully prepared (2006, 7 per cent).

The measures of preparedness and sampling methods used in the two surveys are similar but not identical. However, importantly, they show the same trend of slowly increasing preparedness over time.

“The message is we are getting improvements but we cannot be complacent, as the Canterbury, Cook Strait and Eketahuna earthquakes showed us.

“Importantly, it is not just earthquakes. Winter is coming, and not just on the TV show Game of Thrones! We will have storms, slips and floods, just like we do every year. They can cut roads, power, water and other services.

“Being fully prepared with enough stored food and water for three days or more, and having a plan for what we will do when some of us are at home and others at work, school or elsewhere helps in all civil defence emergencies.

“Being prepared means we and our loved ones will get thru better and recover faster.”

The percentage of people with emergency supplies at home is high, 85 per cent in the Ministry’s 2013 survey. It is people not having plans for what to do, especially when they are not at home, that drops the percentage described as fully prepared.

The Ministry, the regional Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, and councils are continuing the national public education programme. This includes the Get Ready Get Thru campaign, What’s the Plan Stan? schools programme, Yellow pages advertising, and regional and local events and promotions.

To find out how to prepare and what to do before, during and after emergencies go to www.getthru.govt.nz

Ireland | Update from the National Coordination Group on Severe Weather

The National Coordination Group has been building up a picture of the damage and impact of the latest storm to hit the country today (12th Feb 2014).

With significant damage and disruption in the transport sector, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has attended the Group’s meeting. The storm has had major impact on transport, electricity and communication infrastructure and buildings, disrupting travel and communities. Rail services were disrupted and airports were closed for a period. Roads and traffic were disrupted by overturned lorries in a number of cases.

Met Eireann had issued a Status Red severe weather warning for Cork and Kerry initially but this was extended to Leinster, Munster & Connacht as damaging and dangerous winds travelled up across the country from the south-west. The storm is expected to clear the east coast later this evening.

Counties in the path of the storm were badly impacted as it moved across the country. Many buildings were damaged and in Killarney the 52 occupants of a nursing home were evacuated after its roof was damaged. In Kilkenny a major emergency was declared as the number of calls for assistance overwhelmed the response capacity.

The ESB has reported that power supply have been impacted to in excess of 200,000 properties.  ESB crews will be working through the night to restore as many lines as possible, because of the scale of damage  it may take some time to restore supply to all customers. Persons with specific medical concerns are advised to contact their medical practitioners for advice. People are asked to check on vulnerable neighbours in their community in areas without power. People should keep warm and take care with alternative forms of energy. ESB crews will also be prioritising power to infrastructure such as water treatment plants and pumping stations.

Local authorities are clearing fallen trees in all areas, but again this may take some time. All road users and pedestrians are being advised to exercise extreme caution this evening due to the dangerous conditions that exist. Commuters are advised that tomorrow will see ice in the morning, and they need to take account of local conditions in making travel plans.

The public have been reminded to continue to follow the weather warnings and to heed the safety messages of the authorities. People should also be mindful when using candles and open heating sources in the home.  All road users are advised to exercise extreme caution particularly on motorways, there is also danger from debris/fallen trees and icy roads in the morning. People should use public transport where available, allowing extra time for journeys and check details with their transport providers in advance of travel.

The National Co-ordination Group will continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with the local authorities, An Garda Siochana and HSE.

Weather Warnings are presented in three categories:

  1. STATUS YELLOW- Weather Alert – Be Aware

    The concept behind YELLOW level weather alerts is to notify those who are at risk because of their location and/or activity, and to allow them to take preventative action. It is implicit that YELLOW level weather alerts are for weather conditions that do not pose an immediate threat to the general population, but only to those exposed to risk by nature of their location and/or activity.

  2. STATUS ORANGE- Weather Warning – Be Prepared

    This category of ORANGE level weather warnings is for weather conditions which have the capacity to impact significantly on people in the affected areas. The issue of an Orange level weather warning implies that all recipients in the affected areas should prepare themselves in an appropriate way for the anticipated conditions.

  3. STATUS RED- Severe Weather Warning – Take Action

    The issue of RED level severe weather warnings should be a comparatively rare event and implies that recipients take action to protect themselves and/or their properties; this could be by moving their families out of the danger zone temporarily; by staying indoors; or by other specific actions aimed at mitigating the effects of the weather conditions.

VIC | SES embraces local knowledge for emergency planning

With the launch of its Local Knowledge Policy, Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) is committed to embracing information from people on the ground to a greater extent than ever before.

Reviews of past emergencies demonstrate the value of incorporating local knowledge. The 2011 Victorian Floods Review showed examples of local knowledge being used to good effect to inform decision making during the 2010-11 floods, as well as where a lack of local knowledge hurt the response.

SES is implementing local knowledge initiatives by:

  • - Identifying and working with existing networks that are a source of local knowledge
  • - Identifying community observers to provide information and observations during emergencies
  • - Identifying community observers within relevant emergency plans including Municipal Flood Emergency Plans
  • - Establishing command and control arrangements with other emergency service providers

SES acknowledges and appreciates the contributions of all community members, other emergency service agencies and stakeholders thus far to its local knowledge initiatives and looks forward to continuing to work closely with them in the future.

For further information, including how you can get involved, read the Local Knowledge Factsheet.pdf (256 KB)