Thursday, May 19, 2011

SLOSH, MEOW and MOM - more from the GHC

At the first afternoon workshop I attended the Regional Evacuation Study Roundtable for the Northeast Florida and East Central Regions. Using federal and state funds from the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, $29 million was spent to generate the first simultaneous regional evacuation study for the entire coastline of the state of Florida. These studies are important for state and local planners to plan for hurricane evacuations.

SLOSH stands for Sea Lake Overland Surge from Hurricanes. SLOSH provides a graphical representation on how far inland the water from a hurricane is expected to penetrate. $24 million of the cost of the study was devoted to flying an airplane along every inch of the state's coastline and using a laser to calculate the height of the coastal counties. This digital data was stored in an extremely LARGE database and would be the basis for the SLOSH calculations.

The SLOSH are too complicated for me to go into here. Suffice to say, the depth of the surge at any given point on a coastal county depends on not only the elevation of that location but on the size, intensity, forward speed and direction of movement of the hurricane. Therefore, they fed this data into a supercomputer for a few days and ran hundreds of hurricanes with a combination of the different variables for each hurricane. MEOW stands for the Maximum Envelope of Winds for each of those hurricanes.

To be safe, the SLOSH maps produced for use by local and state planners shows the MOM, or Maximum of Maximums of all the different hurricanes run through the computer. These maps show the depth of the penetration and the depth of the water at each location, among other things.

This is an extremely simplified version of a very complex subject. Since the release of the products to the counties last year, planners have been trying to digest the enormous volume of data that the studies provide. Planners will use this info to make Plans to evacuate and shelter everyone based on the forecast provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Governor's Hurricane Conference - Part 2

Thursday at the Governor's Hurricane Conference is a day of workshops. My first workshop of the day was my own - I was the speaker. With the scary title "Latest Developments in Resource Typing for Mass Care," I was curious as to who would show up. When I saw that my presentation was scheduled to compete with the workshop entitled "American Red Cross Roundtable," I wondered if anyone would come at all. My concern came from the fact that I expected my audience to be mostly Red Cross people.

Fortunately, there were people at the conference who weren't scared by the title but were actually interested. "Resource Typing" is a fancy term that comes from the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS defines a resource as personnel, equipment or supplies. When a disaster strikes there is an immediate demand for more resources. Emergency Managers in the affected area request resources from outside the affected area. Resource Typing identifies common items that are requested in a disaster, provides a uniform description of the resource, and categorizes them by Type, or capability. A Type 1 resource has more capability than a Type 2 resource.

I have been the Chairman of the NIMS Mass Care Working Group since 2008. FEMA assembled in this group the subject matter experts necessary to resource type resources needed to perform mass care. Most of the members of the work group come from the voluntary agencies usually involved in mass care feeding and sheltering: the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Southern Baptists and the Adventists.

The purpose of my presentation was to spread the word about what we are doing in the world of resource typing and mass care. The process has been long and laborious, but we are ready to submit some resource typing documents to FEMA for approval and distribution to the emergency management community for their use.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

At the Governor's Hurricane Conference in Ft. Lauderdale

This is the 25th Aniversary of the Governor's Hurricane Conference. I have lost count of how many of these conferences I have attended, but I know I have been to at least ten. I enjoy this conference because I get to see a lot of people in the Florida emergency management community that I don't get to see the rest of the year.

Besides the fact that this is the 25th anniversary of the conference, we have a lot of firsts for the conference this year. This is the first conference for the new Director of the Divison of Emergency Management, Bryan Koon. This is also the first conference for our new Governor, Rick Scott.

The first speaker of the afternoon opening session was Governor Bob Martinez, who was the Governor of Florida when the first conference was held. Bryan Koon spoke next and mentioned that the last hurricane conference he attended, in Rhode Island, was three hours long. Florida's five day conference and training sessions gives him a new perspective. Bryan says that he enjoys his job. That's good. He will have some trials in his future.

Governor Scott is a much different public speaker than Governor Crist. I heard Governor Crist speak at the State EOC and at this Conference many times. All his speeches were the same, and emphasized what a great job we were doing. Thus, I did not find them very memorable.

Governor Scott's first speech was memorable. He made a number of comments that weren't in his prepared remarks. He told funny stories. He made mistakes reading his presentation. And best of all, he kept it short. Like Bryan Koon, he may have to endure some emergency related trials as a part of his job in the future.

Tomorrow I have a speaking engagement first thing. I am looking forward to it.