As a continuation of last week’s blog on dams monitoring and emergencies, the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) Emergency Management Specialist, Daniel Berkman is guest blogging to tell us more about the OEMHS’s role in Dam Emergency Action Plans and Severe Weather situations.
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to My Green Montgomery. The relationship between the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and OEMHS is very strong and it is a great example of how OEMHS works with other County agencies on emergency management planning, response, and recovery. Before I get too far in the (potentially flooded) weeds about our dam safety program, I will give a quick overview about our office.
Our mission is to effectively manage and coordinate the County’s unified planning, response, mitigation, and recovery from disasters and events should they occur.
In other words, we collaborate with partners, and are the central agency for Montgomery County’s disaster planning, response, mitigation and recovery. We are able to achieve our mission by
The disaster management cycle is continuous, but the more we can mitigate and prepare for future events, the better we can be in the response and recovery stages.
As mentioned in the last blog, the purpose of a dam emergency action plan (EAP) is to reduce the risk of human life loss and injury and minimize property damage during an unusual or emergency event. When DEP is monitoring an event (heavy rain storm, hurricane, etc.) they will contact OEMHS if the water gets to LEVEL 2 or LEVEL 3. OEMHS then serves as the primary contact for coordinating all emergency actions.
In both Level 2 and Level 3 situations, OEMHS would set up the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) where other county agencies meet to coordinate during the course of an event. Depending on the severity of a dam event and the potential number of people impacted, there would be either a:
If the situation arose where residents would need to be evacuated, temporary shelters would be set up at nearby government owned buildings by the American Red Cross and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. All Dam EAPs list which houses are at risk to a potential flood, so given enough warning time, these residents would be able to find another temporary living situation on their own as well.
OEMHS is responsible for deciding when the emergency is over. As with our trainings and exercises, we would conduct an After Action Report (AAR) to document the response and any lessons learned. The most recent dam event which merited an AAR in Montgomery County occurred in 2006. Any interesting lesson learned was the high media interest during and after the event. There were issues with media trucks parking and their ability to run cable for a live broadcast.
Visit the OEMHS website to learn more about what you can do more specifically prior to, during and after a severe storm.
By Daniel Berkman, Emergency Management Specialist, Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security