I think any town should sit down and come up with contingencies. If anything, it alleviates some of the panic when people have something to do.
And yes, the biggest thing is that ‘no one’ wants to ‘waste time’ doing it.
I think any government should have a list of rallying points for their employees. 2-4 places that will be command centers, and employees are instructed to go to them, in order, to check in.(in other words, you don’t know what part of town will be destroyed so if post #1 is gone, go to #2, etc) they would then either be sent home and marked off as accounted for, or be put to work. and some of them may not be put to work in their normal job scope…in other words if labor is needed to search for survivors, people do that, even if those people normally are accountants.
there should be accommodations made to get or secure tools for workers, gloves, shovels, saws, pry bars, etc. Even if those accommodations are making arrangements with local hardware stores ‘look, we need this, can we give you an IOU and pay you later’
Some people should be tasked with going around shelters, taking names and compiling a database of survivors. I’m sure some of that is being done in Joplin, but there are also people that will shelter with neighbors or in a hotel out of town and be ‘unaccounted for’ and ‘missing’ simply because their name isn’t checked off a list.
People should also look at employees and their tasks…and if there is a vital task that only one person knows how to do, change that. either have multiple people taught how to do it or also have that person write down ‘this is how you….’ and have a book of those critical jobs so that if that one person is missing or injured things can still get done.
Data, of course, should never be in one place. How many times has there been ‘well, we did have his birth certificate but the courthouse burnt down and it was lost’. there should be backups of vital info somewhere. especially in this day and age of needing an ID to do about anything.
what you hope is that you DO end up wasting your time…and that your preparation is never used.