|Contact: Steve Jensen
|July 31, 2012|
STATEWIDE EMERGENCY DRILL SHOWS IMPROVED COORDINATION AND COMMUNICATION, BETTER DELIVERY OF SERVICES IN THE EVENT OF A DISASTER
New Policies Help Streamline Allocation of Vital Commodities;
Drill Exercises Five Multi-Jurisdictional Shelters for the First Time
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday said that the four-day statewide emergency preparedness drill that began on Saturday and was designed to simulate a Category 3 hurricane has allowed the state, local officials, utility companies, and the private sector to exercise planning and preparation for the possibility of future emergencies.
"The four-day exercise that concluded today brought all of the state's partners together to prepare for the types of storms and other emergencies that are inevitable but whose impact we have a responsibility to try to counteract in the most efficient way possible," Governor Malloy said. "Most important, the drill focused on fostering better communications amongst the many parties involved. I want to thank everyone who participated for their cooperation and understanding of the importance of doing these drills."
"The double-barreled storms that devastated our state last summer and fall made it clear that we needed a better blueprint for coordinating a timely, effective response between all of those involved," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "While we still may have work to do, this exercise is a significant step forward toward our goal of making Connecticut's infrastructure and preparation second to none."
Over 165 participating municipalities and tribal nations activated their Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) and convened their local Unified Commands. The exercise was scheduled over a four-day period to allow towns with volunteer staff to choose to participate on the weekend, and towns with paid staff to participate on weekdays in order to reduce costs. In addition, municipalities will receive a $1,200 stipend for participation.
This exercise tested a number of new preparedness structures, policies, and protocols that were put in place after the two storms, including:
- For the first time, municipalities formally exercised multi-town shelters, putting into practice a positive lesson learned from last year's storms.
- In response to concerns raised by communities that areas of storm impact were inaccessible for extended periods of time because of downed wires, a new "Make Safe" road clearing protocol has been established. The Protocol was utilized by municipal, state, and utility road clearing crews in 20 towns during the exercise. As part of the "Make Safe" Protocol, power utilities have committed to providing crews to each affected town after a severe storm.
- The new "Make Safe" procedures were also exercised over the weekend at the New England Disaster Training Center. The state's volunteer Urban Search and Rescue Team drilled with CL&P as well as local first responders and volunteers to test the State Fire Response Plan using a pre-hurricane tornado scenario that included simulated downed wires.
- In order to speed up delivery of commodities to municipalities, a new streamlined process for requests for items such as food, water, and cots has been created and tested by all towns during the exercise.
- The successful Task Force structure that was established during last year's storms has been codified and enhanced. The exercise tested these groups to ensure streamlined and coordinated communications, so that resources will be allocated where they are most needed. Task Forces included: Mass Care; Debris Management; Commodity Distribution; Fuel/Generators; Evacuation; Joint Energy and Communications Restoration; Water; Donations Management; and, Recovery.
· The drill exercised the new All-Hazards Energy and Utilities Annex which outlines for the first time a formal information flow between municipalities, utilities, and state agencies. The Annex includes a process for embedding cable and telecommunications representatives in power utility Emergency Operations Centers so that problems can be addressed in a more timely manner, allowing for quicker utility restoration. The Annex also for the first time details the type of information that must be provided by utilities to municipalities and the State Emergency Operations Center.
During the coming weeks, the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) will begin conducting a full after-action review of the exercise with all those involved to identify strengths and areas for improvement. The results will be used to continue planning, preparedness and exercise work moving forward.
"This exercise has provided us with the opportunity to address critical concerns raised as a result of last year's storms," said First Selectman of Simsbury Mary A. Glassman. "It has allowed us to better prepare, plan and communicate more effectively during future state emergencies."
"I would like to thank Governor Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Wyman for their continued leadership in emergency management," said Council of Small Towns Emergency Management Representative James P. O'Leary. "We must maintain and foster the DEMHS regional approach and continue to exercise and train at all levels of government to ensure we are ready for the next emergency or disaster."
Participants in the exercise included the relevant state agencies; the state's municipalities and tribal nations; utility companies (CL&P, United Illuminating, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, Charter, Cox and MetroCast); the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Red Cross; United Way 211; and representatives of the private sector.