Pointers for Governmental Preparedness for Hurricane Season

Hurricane preparedness is broadcasted all over the news, social media and in written media. Typically education for hurricane preparedness comes in the form of preparing the layperson with what tangible items will meet the person’s needs in the event of wide scale damage in the aftermath of a hurricane.  These needs generally include bottled water, an alternative power source, shelf stable foods, sandbags and other tools to help clean up the destruction.

What hurricane preparedness does not discuss is how the local municipalities, counties, cities and other agencies prepare (theoretically on paper) for a large-scale disaster. Many large hurricanes in American history have taught lessons through the aftermath and devastation.  Prior to many of these hurricanes, having a plan for the “what ifs?” that may never happen were less common.  Until that point, figuring it out as the disaster unfolded was kind of the norm Hurricanes have taught the emergency and disaster management sector that winging it simply is not enough anymore. 

Preparedness is not about the items you have on hand, it is about the way an Emergency Plan is written then executed. Preparedness is about having all key players from the Emergency manager down to the self-deploying volunteer understand the dynamics and components of the ICS system. Preparedness starts long before the eye of a storm is ever on the radar.

What are the top three ways to prepare your department for a Hurricane?

1. Understanding the Incident Command System  This seems basic to Emergency Managers (EM) - We all know that having a well versed and educated EOC is single-handedly the most important part of a large scale disaster.  However, having a well educated EM manning the EOC is only as valuable as every person beneath him/her.  We are only as strong as our weakest link.  Educating the components below the EM is perhaps the most beneficial step a locality can do during hurricane preparedness.  Without the pillars for your EOC to stand on, the entire ICS dynamic will crumble!   Relevant classes for ICS:

2. Volunteer and Donations Management.  Speak to any Emergency Manager following a large scale event and they will tell you that well meaning volunteers are both the backbone of the effort and the biggest headache.  Self-deploying volunteers are a tax to the Emergency system in the event of a disaster as they can be a huge liability when not accounted for and their skillset and tools may be under utilized if they are not placed in the location they are needed the most. Around the country, there are warehouses of items that have been donated for a disaster and cannot be destroyed.  Coming up with a game plan for how to best utilize and manage both volunteers and donations is one of the most valuable assets you can offer your jurisdiction!  Enrolling your officials in G-288 Local Volunteer and Donations Management will teach them how to build relationships between the government and non-governmental organizations as well as developing a plan for unsolicited goods and cash donations.

3. Emergency Planning: Having a plan before you need one.  While preparedness sounds like the “things” you can gather, that is only one small part of emergency planning.  Learning the fundamentals of creating an Emergency Plan for your department is incredibly valuable.  This course highlights how emergency planning works with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to meet compliance and integration.  G 235 Emergency Planning is meant for emergency management personnel who are involved in developing an effective emergency planning system.  


Ultimately, the goal for preparedness is being proactive so that your reactive measures are pointed and calculated rather than lost in chaos.  All key players should have a comprehensive understanding of the Incident Command System.  Within that system, the volunteers and goods/monetary donations protocol should be established.  Finally, beginning with the end in mind, before a storm is even named, an Emergency Plan should be developed knowing that the only thing certain in disaster management is that uncertainty will likely ensue. 


Melanie Binversie The Blue Cell The NIMS Store Emergency And Disaster Management Training Virtual ICSMelanie Binversie is a Marine Corps wife and mother of three originally from rural Virginia but is currently living in Aurora, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude in Emergency Management and a Minor in Intelligence Studies from American Military University in West Virginia.  Melanie has previously worked for many years in Fire and EMS, a lab technician and also as a medic at a jail.  She has earned many awards including Fort Belvoir Military Spouse of the Year, Heroes at Home Marine Corps Spouse of the Year.  In her free time Melanie loves to read, write, go camping with her family and travel around the world. 

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