The articles and writings in Brief Me- The Bravo Charlie Ready Online Magazine are selected and provided by forward thinkers and thought leaders in and out of the emergency services community. Spanning contemporary topics this weekly online magazine seeks to learn from and analyze the past while being relevant to the present and providing innovative ideas for the future.
I had the good fortune to be requested and assigned to flood fighting operations in the Siouxland area over the past few weeks. The Siouxlands are the Cities of South Sioux, Nebraska, North Sioux, South Dakota and Sioux City, Iowa; the feeling I get there is that of one big city along the Missouri river, or one big community. The sharing of resources, ideas, and information has been impressive. A common occurrence has been volunteers that simply jump in their cars and cross the river to go fill sandbags. The Red Cross serves all three states out of one office, the three states and counties share a communications / command post amongst them, and lastly, emergency management officials know each other from living and working together on an ongoing basis. There is no ’exchanging business cards after the emergency has started in the parking lot.’
My mission this time was a technical assistance- planning mission to create, vet and tabletop a full evacuation plan of the South Sioux City, Dakota City, and Villages of Jackson and Homer, Nebraska. In support I had a great planning team in Lincoln at the Nebraska State EOC. The team, led by a Nebraska National Guard major, is made up of the State Fire Marshall, a ranking member of the State patrol and State Department roads with support from the state EOC GIS specialist.
We have conducted teleconferences twice a day in the development and vetting of this plan. It has been a unique approach to be the point man, in the field with the support element 150 miles away. We have come up with several practices that I think are moving to the “best “category. One is the concept of inner and outer perimeter. Another is state supported points of dispensing along safe routes. The third is the use of social media in a preparedness mission while the incident is unfolding. Another item that had to be taken into consideration was the evacuation of the largest beef processing plant in the country, which happened to be on the primary evacuation route. The crowning achievement with regard to notification was the establishment of a county wide text messaging system for emergency management which was put in place and operational within 24 hours of commencement. The enrollment for messaging (with the option in two languages), was broadcast by local television, radio and advertised by leaving handbills at various businesses and community locations.
In conclusion, flood fighting as a planner has been very interesting from the perspective of using existing plans and coupling them with created concepts. The affected area in this case was extremely large and the resource allocation component began to impact decision and expectations. This mission solidified the Blue Cell concept of planning as An Art, A Trade, An Advocation.
Todd Manns, Planning Section Chief, The Blue Cell, LLC