EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — December 14, 2005

Hurricane Pam and Hurricane Katrina
Pre-event 'Lessons Learned'

Madhu Beriwal
President, CEO
Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. (IEM)

Avagene Moore
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Amy Sebring, my partner/associate, and I are pleased you could join us today! Today's topic is "Hurricane Pam and Hurricane Katrina: Pre-event 'Lessons Learned.' Our speaker was a presenter at the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Annual Conference last month in Phoenix. I am confident you will appreciate what she has to tell us today.

It is a pleasure to introduce our distinguished guest today, Madhu Beriwal, President and CEO of Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. an emergency management expert with over 17 years of experience managing high-technology research activities, and a recognized expert in evacuation modeling. For Hurricane Pam, IEM developed and conducted a scenario-based exercise that guided subsequent development of an integrated action plan for responding to a catastrophic hurricane.

If you have not read the background page, please do so to learn more of Ms. Beriwal's expertise and experience. Please help me welcome Madhu Beriwal to the EIIP Virtual Forum. Madhu, we are delighted you are here and I now turn the floor to you for your formal remarks.


Madhu Beriwal: Thanks, Avagene, and hello and welcome to everyone. Today I have been asked to share with you IEM’s unique perspective on preparing for catastrophic events. To cap twenty years of experience in disaster preparedness, IEM conducted the Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane planning workshops in 2004 and 2005.

These workshops were based on a hypothetical "Hurricane Pam," which was a first step toward an innovative model for integrated Federal, State, and local catastrophic planning throughout the United States. Hurricane Pam was a unique process that united plan development and exercises. It included some pre-landfall planning, but focused primarily on activities conducted after the storm made landfall, becoming the first ever post-storm exercise held in Louisiana.

Traditionally, emergency plans are developed by a small group of planners and then exercised for a particular scenario by a range of participants. Areas for improvement are identified, improvements are made, and the plan is exercised again. For Hurricane Pam, IEM developed and conducted a scenario-based exercise that guided development of an integrated action plan for responding to a catastrophic hurricane.

Implemented through a series of workshops, Hurricane Pam included personnel from 13 parishes, 30 State agencies, and 15 Federal agencies. Participants were gathered together at one location and presented with the Hurricane Pam scenario and consequences. Breakout rooms and action rooms were designated for key response and recovery topics, such as unwatering the City of New Orleans, conducting search and rescue operations, establishing temporary housing, and others. In each room, personnel from different jurisdictions worked together to begin tackling the operational complexities involved in addressing a specific topic.

By August 24, 2005, when the fourth Hurricane Pam workshop was held, the evolving plan was a version 1.0 with many topics still to be addressed. Katrina, which struck on August 29, 2005, required version 10.0.

Early Lessons Learned

Comparing the consequence information produced for Hurricane Pam with the real-world consequences produced by Hurricane Katrina illustrates that a very realistic scenario can be developed and used to drive planning. Hurricane Pam participants were facing a real storm, and they had to build action plans to respond to such an event.

Many consequence estimates were extremely close to the reality of Katrina. For example, there was 20" of rain in Pam and 18" for Katrina. In Pam, it was estimated that unwatering would take more than 30 days; it took 43 actual days to pump 250 billion gallons from the city following Katrina. Pam data showed over 1 million Louisiana residents displaced for the long-term. Following Katrina more than 1 million Gulf Coast residents displaced, majority from Louisiana. The number of people in shelters, the impact on offshore oil and gas operations and refineries and the shut down of virtually all medical treatment facilities in the affected areas were also similar in Pam and Katrina. The casualty estimate, thankfully, was not close. The difference is largely attributable to the 80% evacuation rate in Katrina, which was much higher than that predicted for Pam.

The process used in Pam produced identifiable successes. Early analysis of the response to Hurricane Katrina has shown that several ideas generated during Hurricane Pam were used during Katrina, including:

• Lily-pad operations

• Temporary medical operations staging areas

• Schools

Under contract, IEM is now comparing the hypothetical consequences of Pam to the reality of Katrina. We are also redeveloping a comprehensive response and recovery timeline that includes all agencies – federal, state, local and military. This is a very important task for the nation. We will turn over every rock in an unbiased, objective attempt to identify what happened and how to improve planning and preparedness for future events.

Recommendations for Future Catastrophic Planning Efforts

Based on IEM’s experience with Hurricane Pam and our history of disaster planning, I would like to leave you with a few recommendations for future catastrophic planning efforts:

Conduct detailed scenario-based planning with planners and operational personnel. If we are to be fully prepared for catastrophic events of the future, we must stretch our imaginations and comprehend and plan for the potential situations we will face and their real-world consequences. We should also involve both planners and operational personnel in the response planning for these events. Operational personnel offer a "real-world" element to planning and their involvement vests them in the outcome.

Prioritize planning tasks – back to the basics. While each catastrophic event will be different and you certainly must take into account stakeholder needs and priorities, there are basic processes and protocols that must be in place for effective response:

• Identify the hazard and accurately analyze its consequences.

• Develop timely and appropriate protective action decisions. Essentially, these boil down to evacuate or shelter in place.

• Communicate protective action decisions to the public.

• Implement protective actions.

Define acceptable outcomes for plans. It is critical that we define the outcomes our plans must accomplish and then work toward developing plans that achieve those outcomes. We must work with public officials to make the tough decisions about what we must achieve and to establish policies related to outcomes. Once the outcomes are clear, we can identify resource shortfalls that prevent achievement of the goals and work to address them.

Conduct objective, performance-based exercises. To truly measure plan effectiveness, it is imperative that evaluation tools be designed to measure the ability of the plan to produce acceptable results. Once the desired results have been defined, exercises can be conducted to measure performance against these results. Where intended results are not accomplished, recommendations for improvement can be provided along with a "roadmap" indicating all actions needing to be completed to achieve specified results. The National Preparedness Goal defines performance metrics for various capabilities.

Finally, we are currently in the process of doing an After Action Review of Katrina response and recovery. The catastrophe will surely result in a better emergency management system at all levels. This concludes my formal remarks and I am available for your questions. I now turn you back to our Moderator.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Madhu. We will now turn to questions from our audience.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Claire Rubin: You mention that your firm is preparing an after-action report. Who is the client? Seems to be there are several local analyses: the mayor's, the city council's the states. Who will reconcile them? How does yours differ from the one being done by Frances Townsend?

Madhu Beriwal: Hello Claire! The After Action work is under contract to FEMA. The Homeland Security Council (Fran Townsend) is completing a report this month, I believe. The report we are preparing looks at a comprehensive timeline of all response actions. Also, we are checking to see where Hurricane Pam predictions were or were not on the mark.

Valerie Lucus: I saw your presentation at IAEM and was fascinated/horrified by how closely your scenario matched what happened. I was also frustrated that so many of the processes and protocols that you recommend are not new -- Emergency Managers try to get these concepts across on a daily basis. Any suggestions on how to get through our inherently flawed political process to bring this kind of planning and thinking forward? That has to be the first step.

Madhu Beriwal: I think we need to go back to basics on some issues and on others we need to integrate science and technology better. On the basics, we need to have detailed plans and then rigorously train and objectively exercise and evaluate. This is the quality cycle that will improve all systems - even disaster management. On the technology side, we need to more completely integrate modeling and simulation technology to calculate the consequences of various actions. These outcomes are what allow us to engage better with political leaders. A mayor or governor cannot easily relate to "communications did not work" or "sheltering was OK". They do relate to outcomes like 50,000 would be expected to die, and 200,000 would be injured or ill. We have to work to show the effects of various interventions on the outcomes.

David Landguth: How close were the estimates relating to healthcare needs following Pam versus Katrina? I'm most interested in this since NDMS treated over 60,000 people and is still providing primary care to three of the Parishes as I recall. Did Pam anticipate the security issues we faced with our medical personnel?

Madhu Beriwal: Let me take the questions one at a time with the medical issue first. The medical numbers were quite close. We expected approximately 200,000 to be ill or injured. The actual number seems to be close to this. But medical surge capability may not be able to address such numbers adequately. On the security side some topics were not yet discussed. Security was one of them. Hurricane Pam was a series of workshops - the last one was held August 23-24 - days before the August 29th landfall.

Lynn Orstad: We use the Incident Command System here in Canada and if you would please describe "Lily Pad Operations" , what it means and how it interfaces with ICS, would be helpful. thank you.

Madhu Beriwal: Lily pad was a term that the Hurricane Pam participants came up with. It is the section of the process where people who have been searched and rescued are taken from their "shelters" to a land-water interface. Then, another team of first responders takes them from the land-water interface to a shelter, triage site.

Wayne Blanchard: Were any community-based organizations involved in the Pam exercise? And, have read that only one person from New Orleans government participated. Is this true?

Madhu Beriwal: The American Red Cross was there. There were many people from each of the 13 parishes in Louisiana

Amy Sebring: Katrina in particular has got me started thinking about the importance of leadership in catastrophic disaster response. Do you agree this is an important element and if so, should/can we incorporate leadership development in our planning in some way that we have not done traditionally?

Madhu Beriwal: Leadership is, of course, key. It is hard to get mayors and governors to pay attention to disasters in time of "peace". But, it is important to engage them. We need to find cogent ways to engage the top leaderships in disaster discussions.

Avagene Moore: You said evacuation was higher in Katrina than in Pam. Do you think that will change for your future scenarios? Why or why not?

Madhu Beriwal: The evacuation response rate expected in Pam was 35%. The response rate in Katrina is cited to be as high as 80-90%. The best that I am aware of for a hurricane impacting the US has been about 80% or so. So the response rate was "good" compared to historical numbers. The situation is more complicated than just a high response rate. For Rita, there was a large evacuation, forcing people to spend more time on the road. We have to figure out how to get the most vulnerable to respond - risk-based evacuations.

Don Hardison: Communications is a consistent issue, and fail during almost every incident. What measures are being given to local radio stations and their immediate repair for use as public information sources? Almost every family stocks up on a radio and batteries, but there is no one or no station broadcasting because of damage or service availability. Does your pre-planning address this issue and the importance of having a public broadcasting ability? I've lived through many Gulf Coast as well as Caribbean storms and am now participating as a responder with an airlift organization.

Madhu Beriwal: Communications, unfortunately, was one of the issues that was not addressed. Communications was a big problem in Katrina. I would however, separate communications among first responders with public information (communicating with the public).

Stephen Giordano: What if anything was done to track people/patients after evacuation in your scenario and for Katrina?

Madhu Beriwal: In Pam, the process worked out was to have people brought from the lily pad operation to triage sites, shelters, or the morgue. Then, after they had been triaged, if they went to a public shelter, they were registered there. This part of the planning generated a lot of discussion at the first workshop. In Pam, if people did not go to a public shelter, they were counted for planning for temporary housing. We estimated that 200,000 temporary houses would be needed to house the displaced population.

Claire Rubin: Some years back, the professional associations that represented state and local officials (National Governors Assoc, City Managers Assoc.) used to work closely with FEMA and produce training and educational products for their members. Should this be restored and emphasized again?

Madhu Beriwal: Claire, training is always important. My sense from Pam and Katrina is that we need to focus on site-specific, disaster-scenario specific planning for catastrophes and then train that rigorously.

Wayne Blanchard: Could you note where you stand on the position that all local and State disaster or emergency operations planning ought to include representatives of effected citizens (as in local community-based organizations) as active participants in the planning process?

Madhu Beriwal: To the degree that it is possible, I would suggest that citizen groups should be involved. We had 300 participants in Hurricane Pam. If you swell that number and have one representative for each civic organization, it will become very unwieldy. Having said that, it is important to go back to grassroots organizations and lay out the issues that are expected to be raised by any event and work closely with them - one on one - to resolve the issues. Often, the solutions they offer will be better, more effective, and perhaps cheaper.

Amy Sebring: Did the Pam exercise and workshops go beyond immediate response to consider the longer-term recovery issues that are being faced now, and will be for a long time to come?

Madhu Beriwal: Pam was not about the immediate response. It was the first ever "post-storm" exercise. So it concentrated on the days and weeks after a storm's landfall. The first workshop was 8 days long - three days for pre-landfall and 5 days for post-landfall. The remaining 3 workshops that were conducted also focused on post-landfall.

Barry Drogin: Your statement about Pam being at 1.0 but needing to be at 10.0 reminds me of a statement Al Leidner made after 9/11: "Everything you do in peacetime becomes essential in an emergency situation. And everything we didn't do [meaning, we knew it had to be done but we hadn't gotten around to it yet], cost us dearly." Security and communications have been mentioned. What do you believe was the most important "yet to be addressed" issue? Or would you like to mention several? Obviously pre-emptive levee repair was not for EM personnel to address.

Madhu Beriwal: I think some of the issues that would have been good to address were: security, command and control, communications for first responders. One that we did address a number of times, but has still been very problematic, was temporary housing.

Madhu Beriwal: I would like to go back and correct something I said earlier. For medical issues, the Pam expectation was that 175,000 would be injured and 200,000 would be ill. The actual numbers available so far indicate about 60,000 "treated" by the NDMS.

Lori Wieber: First a comment about an avenue to communicate to the public, XM Radio (which is satellite based) uses Channel 247 to broadcast emergency information. Many vehicles have this service but there are also portable personal receivers. This is not free but is another avenue. I imagine Sirius has something similar. I can listen from Michigan and learn where the shelters are set up and what locations have restored water in Florida communities etc. Was this type broadcast considered as a real option in the Pam scenario as an outlet for public information?

Madhu Beriwal: No - XM radio was not considered.

Avagene Moore: Madhu, I am concerned (like Claire) that public officials at all levels are not well trained and knowledgeable of their ultimate responsibility for public safety. I also think public education is lacking. Do you see us moving beyond governmental planning to a more holistic training for catastrophic disasters?

Madhu Beriwal: Avagene and Claire, I agree that we need to find a way to engage both the governmental leaders and the public. Both are problematic to do. Government leaders have priorities that are equally pressing - health care, education, economic development. People are busy with their own lives. Studies indicate that people are bombarded with 1 million messages a year. Disaster planning gets lost in this.

Amy Sebring: Were there military representatives participating in Pam? If so, who and to what extent?

Madhu Beriwal: There were representatives from both NORTHCOM and the Corps of Engineers. The Corps had 12 representatives, I believe.

Lori Wieber: Was there any considerations during Pam for the impact that companion animals might have if not included in the plans?

Madhu Beriwal: No there was little discussion about the issue of pets. Again, the focus was on post-storm response and recovery and less on the actions to be taken before landfall, although pets have been an issue post-storm also in Katrina.

Amy Sebring: Did you have any sense during the Pam process, that you were competing with Homeland Security type planning requirements activities (for participant time that is)?

Madhu Beriwal: No. Actually we were competing with the actual storms that occurred last year. In 2004 there were a number of hurricanes and tropical storms. Pam planning work got delayed partly because of these storms.

Mark Krizik: What is your reaction to President Bush's statement that the military might need to take charge of an incident as big as Katrina, rather than letting local responders institute Incident Command? I heard there were a number of responders from the country that didn't report to the FEMA command post for assignments, which resulted in free-lancing and frustration by the responders that did report to FEMA.

Madhu Beriwal: I am not cognizant of the problems with people not responding to the FEMA command post. On the issue of the military role in catastrophes, they need to have some role. Before the next one, we should figure out how to rapidly and effectively engage them.

Cynthia Matherne:
Will there be an after action meeting for those of us that participated in Hurricane Pam, and then Katrina and Rita

Madhu Beriwal: I am not sure that Hurricane Pam is funded any more.

Barry Drogin:
Any evidence or anecdotes that relationships established by Pam helped during Katrina? Did the right people participate in Pam?

Madhu Beriwal: Barry, most of the people who participated in Pam were integrally involved in response and recovery for Katrina. I am sure that the relationships helped. Also, it seems that many areas of Hurricane Pam plans were used in the field. We are still collecting information on what was not used, what did not work.

Lloyd Bokman:
What role did business and the private sector play in the Pam exercise, if any? If they did play in Pam, how did it work out in Katrina?

Madhu Beriwal: Lloyd, I do not recall anyone other than Entergy (the local utility company) being at Pam. There was intent to have financial institutions involved in the next set of workshops. But, Katrina prevented that.


Avagene Moore: Thank you, Madhu! We greatly appreciate your effort and time on our behalf and wish you well as you and your company continue this important planning effort.

Madhu Beriwal: Thank you Avagene! I appreciate the opportunity to "speak" at this forum. All of us are trying for the same goal - better management of disasters.

Avagene Moore: Please stand by a moment while we make some quick announcements. If you are not currently on our mailing list, and would like to get program announcements and notices of transcript availability, please see the Subscribe link on our home page.

We have two new EIIP Partners to announce today. We welcome the Community Tsunami Early-warning Centre (CTEC) (Thelwatta, Sri Lanka) http://www.communitytsunamiwarning.com. Dr Novil Wijesekara, Manager, is our Point of Contact (POC).

Welcome to Active Communications International, http://www.acius.net/?cID=230 with POC, Melissa Tashjian, Marketing Director - please check out these Partner Web sites.

If you are interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the "Partnership for You" link on the EIIP Virtual Forum homepage http://www.emforum.org .

Again, the transcript of today's session will be posted later today and you will be able to access it from our home page. An announcement will also be sent to our Mail Lists when the transcript is available.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We appreciate you, the audience!

Before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Madhu Beriwal for a fine job. The EIIP Virtual Forum is adjourned!