Emergency Management Department's job is year-round effort

The most recent lengthy activation of the Emergency Management Operations Center in Oklahoma was after the severe storms that started on May 19, 2013. They were activated for 10 days at that time, returned to normal staffing and then activated again May 31.
by Bryan Painter Published: March 9, 2014
Advertisement
;

May 2013 got off to a cold start, with even as much as 3 inches of snow reported one day in far eastern Oklahoma.

However, by month’s end, tornadoes and other forms of severe weather, including flooding, became daily concerns.

During such times of disasters, the state Emergency Management Department activates the Emergency Management Operations Center. The most recent lengthy activation — 10 days — was after the severe storms that started on May 19, 2013.

Emergency Management Department Director Albert Ashwood was asked to look back on immediate, as well as ongoing, responses as his office works with officials of local communities affected by the severe storms last May.

Q: What is one specific thing you or your department learned from the severe weather — including the tornadoes and floods — of May 2013 that will help you as you serve the public during severe weather in 2014?

A: One learning experience that we thought was very successful following the May storms was a debris removal pilot program developed by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that provided financial incentives for cities and counties for expedited debris removal and for having debris management plans. The program allowed an 85 percent reimbursement for all eligible costs for debris removed in the first 30 days, followed by 80 percent the next 60 days and finally the normal 75 percent after that. Since the state also was able to pay the normal share of 12.5 percent, it left a much smaller percentage for the local jurisdiction. This was a new program being implemented for the first time as a result of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act, so it was a new experience for everyone involved. OEM and FEMA worked closely with the local jurisdictions to help support them through this process. We hope this program becomes standard for future disasters and we are working with local cities and counties as they develop or update their debris management plans to be better prepared for such a program. The faster communities are able to clean up after a disaster, the faster families are able to begin the recovery process.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Former Texas Tech DC Matt Wallerstedt says 'don't believe' rumors of dismissal
  2. 2
    Sex crime charges filed against former Tulsa County sheriff's deputy
  3. 3
    White House will now lock the front door | WashingtonExaminer.com
  4. 4
    Report: Baker Mayfield to receive a third year of eligibility effective immediately
  5. 5
    OU football: Tony Jefferson making an impact with Arizona Cardinals
+ show more