Pandemic idea sharing. Regardless of cause, H5N1, SARS or Ebola the same basic plannings are the same. While a few are tasked with creating the plans, the many are tasked with carrying them out. Disucss plans, ideas, fears and rescources here.
Disaster Recovery and FEMA and States
July 15, 2009 at 3:11 pm #75803
having worked for FEMA during Katrina in New Orleans, PROBABLY the weakest link was Louisiana’s Disaster Recovery Plan and the conflicts between it and FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Efforts.
END OF OPINION
By Jason Miller
and Melinda Zosh
State preparedness plans key for disaster recovery
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is revamping the way it responds to disasters and it’s starting at the state and local level.
Rex Whitacre, FEMA’s chief of information technology operations in its IT Directorate, says 28 states have updated their preparedness plans.
He calls this effort a “massive undertaking” from states including earthquake-prone California and the “highest impact” hurricane regions of the country.
Disaster recovery depends on each state’s preparedness and execution of their revival plans, he says.
“That’s where you can really tell where the shortcomings are with the state or where we may need to step in and help when we are requested to do so,” he says. “The new administrator thinks everyone should have a preparedness plan down to each individual. If people had that and were a little bit more proactive about preparing for a disaster before it actually hits, we’d all be much better off. If you have an expedited response and you could stand there for a couple days until the feds or the locals could get there and help you out.”
Whitacre says the other 22 states, mostly in the middle of the country, are updating their preparedness plans and should be finished by the end of this year.
“States were very reluctant for us to come in because it exposes vulnerabilities,” says Whitacre Tuesday at the AT&T disaster recovery exercise in Washington. “From a communications standpoint and FEMA standpoint, it’s good to know what we think the states can handle, what their shortcomings will be and what we need to fill in the void.”
As part of this effort, FEMA has assigned experts, known as Disaster Emergency Communications (DEC) personnel, to all 10 regions. The DECs will help complete the final state preparedness plans.
“Our plans are based on communications,” he says. “If we are talking about contra flow of people leaving the area or all the frequencies and points of contacts so we know who to contact if we have a problem.”
Whitacre says the DECs also are coordinating regional emergency working groups to improve communication across federal, state and local governments.
He says the goal is to establish relationships before a disaster happens.
“Often times when I walk into a disaster, states think ‘FEMA is here and they are ready to take over,'” Whitacre says. “The new administrator said in his all hands meeting that FEMA would be a lot more successful if the state and locals could handle everything and we could just cut the check and mail the check to the individuals who suffered. That is where we want to go.”
He adds that when the state and locals can’t handle something, that is when FEMA would become more involved.
“We never have precedence over the local authorities,” he says. “We’re there in a support capacity.”
Along with FEMA, vendors also are playing a larger support role. Whitacre says if FEMA cannot meet a state and local need, they will buy it from industry.
AT&T is one such vendor who is providing disaster recovery services for its customers, which includes FEMA. The agency in January hired AT&T, Stratus and Verizon to provide wireless and wired communications under a five-year, $61 million contract.
AT&T held a disaster recovery exercise to showcase how it would in a matter of days after a disaster bring its network back to life.
Mark Francis, AT&T’s vice president for global network operations, says the dozen or more trailers, generators and communications centers are part of a quarterly exercise to ensure the telecom giant is prepared for future disasters.
Francis says AT&T reconstitutes its network using radio wave and satellite technology in order to provide customers with voice, video and data communications as soon as possible after a catastrophe occurs.
July 18, 2009 at 5:42 pm #75805
Thanks again. While states may have better plans – “All disasters are local” Do cities have better plans?
More importantly do the people have better plans? Those who are prepared suffer far less than those who are not.
States and Fedreal governments rely on local cities for information and assesments.
I worry about how different a pandemic is. A bomb or earthquake takes seconds then recovery can start. Hurricane lasts for hours and then recovery starts. Both are localized to cities or a few states. Pandemic will last for weeks or couple of months and cover the whole USA.
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