Notes from the Hurricane Planning Workshop

As I mentioned last week on my blog, I had the opportunity to participate in the first many joint hurricane planning workshops. This workshop gave us an opportunity to pull together the National Guard Bureau, U.S. Northern Command, civilian first responders, state emergency managers, and a variety of federal agency partners as we prepare for the upcoming season.

Planning workshops like this are important because we don't want to repeat the lessons we learned from the Hurricane Katrina response. The only way to ensure that we don’t repeat those lessons is to pull together all of the players and to pre-plan the kinds of responses that’ll be necessary. Clearly the governors, the state emergency managers, the adjutants general will have the lead. But federal partners such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency have additional capability and planning early allows us to integrate all of our efforts ahead of time so that the total response can be more appropriate, effective and certainly more timely.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, each agency brings unique capabilities. Some of the unique tools that USNORTHCOM brings include pre-incident aeromedical evacuation, post-incident airlift support, search and rescue capabilities, and incident assessment capabilities.
We at USNORTHCOM recognize each state has unique capabilities and needs, and it’s important to know what those are ahead of a disaster.

And when a state and the emergency management assistance compacts have exceeded their capacity, the Department of Defense can be helpful.
Although the workshop focused on hurricanes, much of the discussion can be applied to other incidents such as earthquakes, wildfires or terrorism. We have to be realistic in recognizing that hurricanes are not the only natural disaster that can affect citizens of our nation, our families, our communities, our homes. It is a no-fail responsibility.
Cheers -- Gene