Communication Is the First Step in Disaster Coordination

Communication Is the First Step in Disaster Coordination

This piece was originally published as part of the “When Disaster Strikes” feature in the September 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Bryan Holland, Field Representative for the Southern Region, NEMA

After the Flood

Coordinating with local officials is essential to NEMA’s standard operating procedure for natural disasters.

The first step is to identify individuals and agencies that may need NEMA resources and guidance information before, during, and after a natural disaster. These same entities provide information to NEMA regarding the specific location and severity of the event.

Local officials include

  • emergency management officials;
  • building officials and inspectors;
  • fire marshals;
  • county administrators and city managers; and
  • police and military personnel.

The next step is to provide training and education to local officials on the electrical hazards that may arise as a result of a natural disaster. This includes preventive and protective measures that can be taken long before the disaster occurs. The training can be tailored to the specific needs of local officials based on the natural disasters likely to occur in their communities.

The primary activity before and during a natural disaster is frequent communication. This may be directly by phone and email or indirectly by social media. This exchange of information allows NEMA and local officials to determine the extent of the resources needed for the recovery period.

Once the disaster has passed, coordination with local officials may include a visit to the affected region, participation in damage assessment work, and distribution of NEMA guides to local building departments, electrical supply stores, and local trade associations. Follow-up services may include additional training and education.

Coordination with local officials is a year-round activity and the key to a successful natural disaster plan.

Read the September 2016 issue of electroindustry.

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