We are officially in hurricane season, and we already have had three named storms. Organizations who don’t quickly adapt their emergency preparedness plans could face catastrophic losses during this season.
But, what steps should you take and what could you do to adapt when there is a national emergency because of COVID-19?
FEMA has released the COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance (CPOG) for the 2020 Hurricane Season. This guidance is set to help guide jurisdictions in their review of existing plans to account for COVID-19 limitations and restraints. It also provides checklists and resources that will enable emergency managers to best adapt response and recovery plans.
Here are a few things to consider with response planning:
- Leverage your current COVID-19 efforts for response by maintaining current command and control roles and responsibilities.
- Emphasize the importance of a stable communications lifeline.
- Review your existing plans for protective measures to support your deployed personnel, survivors, and associated disaster facilities, including your Point of Distribution (POD) sites.
- Your evacuation planning should consider your community demographics, stay-at-home orders, high risk individuals, individuals with disabilities, and others with access and functional needs.
- Do your hospitals have a plan to not only evacuate patients but also ventilators, dialysis machines, and stockpiled PPE?
- Have you considered the extra time you may need to evacuate given the need for social distancing that increased mass transit modes may require?
- Have you updated your vendor contracts and agreements to procure and deliver supplies and equipment in case of a shortage?
Here are a few things to consider with recovery planning:
- Do you need to reassess your plans to ensure they can effectively execute sheltering and other mass care activities in coordination with public health officials and updated guidance?
- Do you need to review and revalidate emergency operations and sheltering plans? Be sure to prepare multi-lingual messaging and modify resource acquisition and allocation plans.
- You will need to account for FEMA’s virtual work for Individual Assistance (IA), Public Assistance (PA), and Hazard Mitigation (HM) programs and ensure the community is aware of the registration process.
- Have you modified existing recovery plans and structures to not only support current COVID-19 recovery operations and outcomes but also to accommodate future disasters?
- Do you have a plan to support virtual Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) and inspections?
- How will you manage building and housing inspections and re-occupancy procedures given constraints and impacts of COVID-19?
- How will you maximize community input and buy-in for your recovery efforts with considerations for all members of the community, including vulnerable populations?
- Do you have access to associations that can support disaster-related projects?
Be sure that your preparedness plans are ready to support multiple disasters, including one that is a pandemic. In the meantime, FEMA is working hard to adapt and expedite its services to all State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) partners.
To download the COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance (CPOG) for the 2020 Hurricane Season, click here.
Additional information related to preparedness and COVID-19 can be found at https://fema.gov/coronavirus.
Remember that our team of professionals can help walk you through the planning, training, and exercising of your plans. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.