EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — March 25, 2009

New Madrid Seismic Zone
Catastrophic Planning Initiative

James M. Wilkinson, Jr.
Executive Director
Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC)

Derek Estes
Acting Chief, Catastrophic Disaster Planning Branch
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/CUSEC/NMSZEarthquakePlanning.pdf for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org. Our topic today is the New Madrid Seismic Zone Catastrophic Planning Initiative. This multi-year, multi-agency initiative is the largest planning effort ever undertaken in United States History. Please note that a FEMA two page Project Overview is available for download as a hand out today.

Although this initiative is focused on response planning, mitigation can certainly have an impact on the extent of earthquake damage in the region. Therefore, this week’s poll on our homepage is, "Should public school buildings be prioritized for retrofit in the NMSZ? Yes or No." Please take time to participate by voting and review the results thus far.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s speakers: James M. Wilkinson, Jr. is the fifth Executive Director of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC). CUSEC is a partnership of the federal government and the eight states most affected by earthquakes in the central United States. Those states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Jim has worked in the field of emergency management since 1991, beginning with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, where he served as a Population Protection Planner, and, later, as the state's Earthquake Program Manager.

In 1994, he accepted a position with CUSEC as a Mitigation Specialist, and worked closely with CUSEC Member and Associate States to help develop a strong program that addresses the regional impact of earthquakes in the central US, while emphasizing an all hazards approach.

We are also pleased to welcome Derek Estes, the Acting Chief of FEMA's Catastrophic Disaster Planning Branch, which is responsible for the New Madrid, South Florida, California and Hawaii Catastrophic Disaster Planning Initiatives, as well as the National Response Framework's Catastrophic Incident Annex and its Supplement.

At FEMA, he has also served as a policy analyst to the Assistant Administrator for Disaster Operations. Prior to Federal service, Derek worked as an emergency manager for New York City, Washington, DC and the State of North Carolina.

Welcome gentlemen, and thank you very much for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to Derek to start us off please.


Derek Estes: Good afternoon. Jim and I are attending another meeting just outside of Washington so we’re here together. I think that makes it a little easier for us to do it and little more smooth for you all.

I want to first give an overview of why we’re doing what we’re doing. As I said earlier, I’m also responsible for a number of initiatives going on across the country, such as category 5 hurricanes down in Florida, earthquake in California and hurricane in Hawaii based on different challenges from a catastrophic perspective.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone has always been one of the top challenges from an Emergency Management planning standpoint in that the scale of a potential New Madrid earthquake based on the 1811-1812 occurrences would be so large over eight states, 4 federal regions, and would effect the nation, not just from a response perspective, but from a secondary and tertiary cascading of events to the infrastructure—it would be so large that we have to look at this nationally, knowing that we’re supporting the eight states through CUSEC individually.

What we’ve done, is we started this in 2006. It’s been ongoing for over 2 ½ years and the planning process will culminate in the 2011 national level exercise, which is also the 200th anniversary of the 1811-1812 earthquakes. We’ve just now gone beyond the states. We finished the state plans and we’re going on to the regional plans.

This is bottom-up scenario based planning. We started at the local level, just like a response would occur. We brought it up from the local level to the state, and we’re now at the regional level. Our intentions are in the coming months, once we get beyond the regions, we will bring this to the national level. When we get the national level, we will basically take a look at all the plans, the role of these plans, and start to integrate them and understand what is going to occur from the ground up, so that at the national level we can start building in solutions to address the catastrophic nature of this.

We know that we won’t have enough resources to respond to everything, so what we’re going to do is begin to plan to address this, to prioritize, and to look at potential solutions out there that we can look at, I guess, to respond in an innovative way. I think we have to start looking at innovative solutions to this, knowing that we would not be able to get the resources when and where we need them.

With that overview, I’ll go ahead and turn it over to Jim and he can talk a little more in-depth about this.

Jim Wilkinson: Thank you, Derek. Good afternoon. My role in this is to explain some of the history and some of the details of the planning initiative itself, and where we’re heading with the planning. Of course, testing is in 2011. Let’s see if we can move this forward.

[Slide 2]

We have basically a primary purpose of putting together a plan that deals with a New Madrid event. Currently there isn’t a plan that exists per se, at the regional and national level. One of the outcomes of this planning initiative is to develop that. Clearly, we have plans at the state and local level. Many of the plans are specific to earthquakes. As a result of the planning initiative we will have additional plans specific to this hazard in place. The idea, then, as Derek said, is a bottom-up approach to put together plans necessary to be prepared for a New Madrid event, putting aside the details of specifically where the event happens—we know it’s going happen within a zone, but we want to be sure we’re prepared for any event that occurs.

I’ll spend the next 15 or 20 minutes giving the background and details of that.

[Slide 3]

As Derek said, the planning really took notice around 2006, but really the history behind this dates back to the late nineties. At the time, Eric Tolbert, who was the director of FEMA response, approached the CUSEC state directors, my board of directors and said, "We’ve really taken a hard look at hazards across the country, and there are 4 hazards that we deem to be catastrophic if they occur, and because of that, we really need to take a hard look at putting plans together that address that."

At that point, a New Madrid event was ne of the four events that FEMA had defined as being catastrophic should they occur—the Miami hurricane, the New Orleans hurricane, and earthquake in California. Of course of those four, we saw what Katrina did, and it brings some reality to what would happen. Since that point, we’ve had 9/11, Homeland Security stood up, we’ve had a lot of things that changed, a lot of other events that landed on that list of being deemed catastrophic.

But of that list that now exists of about 15 or so hazards, New Madrid remains on the list as critical. As Derek said, in 2006, we really picked up speed. Katrina really drove the importance of this home. Many would recall Hurricane Pam, the planning initiative of center ground addressing the hurricane hitting New Orleans. The same basic premise that we’re using here is a scenario-driven approach to our planning. In late 2006, we really got the ball rolling.

In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary really began looking at this more closely and I think the question came up—"What’s going to happen if it happens today?" We don’t have a plan in place, and that’s what we’re trying to develop as part of this project. The need was there for what the government would do, more on paper as what the government would do in the event that it happened. An interim-contingency plan was developed; it’s kind of a starting point for the federal government to say, "These are the basic premises behind what we would do". That plan would be refined and evolved over the course of the planning to become the final product—The New Madrid Plan.

Of course, Derek mentioned the planning for a hurricane hitting the Miami area also got started in 2007. There are a lot of pieces to the catastrophic planning. We’re going to focus specifically on the New Madrid piece from this point forward. But there are a lot of things going on in the world of catastrophic planning.

[Slide 4]

I think everybody can read this, but in short it’s just a definition for what a catastrophic event is. Basically it’s an event that overwhelms all capacity. It’s local, state and in many parts of the national level to deal with the events. New Madrid redefines really what catastrophic means when you look at the full breadth of its impact on local, state and the nation at large, as a hazard goes. There is no other hazard short of maybe a meteor event, or some other large volcanic event, that would be comparable in its cascading effects across a very large area. When you look at the term "catastrophic", I think New Madrid really defines it and is something that is quite justified in the work to plan for it.

[Slide 5]

To give you some background and history of the events and activities in and around the central U.S: The monitoring that goes on in the geological/seismological community, earthquakes that occur, we’re averaging about 150-200 events a year. Primarily most of those are in the 2-3 range, which by themselves are not causing any issues, but we do have provocations and others that are larger. Last year we had a 5.2, April 18th of last year, that caused damage in 3 states and was felt over 20 states including parts of Canada. Clearly, we have the threat from day to day that earthquakes do occur. Thankfully, we have not had the recurrence of 1811-1812, but we know that it’s there, due to the seismicity that is occurring everyday. We just hope that it doesn’t occur.

The other unique feature, and this has been proven out by these smaller events (most recently the 5.2), is that the geology in this region of the country is vastly different in how seismic waves are transmitted, the distance in which they travel, and the way in which they effect the surface. We have very high quality soils for farming, called the luvial soils, delta, but these aren’t the best soils for earthquake conditions. In some cases it can amplify effects, and can de-amplify in other effects.

What you end up with is the map to the right, on the slide insert is a comparison of the Northridge earthquake of 1994, which is about a 6.7 to an estimated Charleston, Missouri event of 6.8. We didn’t have instruments at that time so that’s the guesstimation of the size of the Charleston event. Clearly, a much broader area of influence, about 20 times larger area, and this is all due to the geology of the area. We saw that proven out in the April event of last year, the 5.2, when we had USGS Did You Feel It reports in over 20 states. Clearly, if you’re feeling the effects in that large of an area from that small of an event, something is proven out. We would definitely expect to see damage of a very large area if you start getting into the upper fives and low six range and on up.

We have fault systems all over the Central U.S. Primarily New Madrid is the top focus where the majority of the scientific community has pushed its resources. But we have the Wabash Valley Seismic zone, which is just to the northeast of that, which falls in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio area, also capable of producing up into the 1907 event, we have the East Tennessee Seismic zone, and we also have the Charleston, South Carolina Seismic zone. All of these areas are seismic systems that are capable of producing very large, damaging earthquakes here in the central U.S.

The population at risk is approximately 44 million people in the eight state area. About 12 million fall into the high-risk area, the areas where we expect to see the most damages and losses from earthquakes. I think an interesting point to be raised about the risk to the population—people typically think when we talk about the Central U.S., either St. Louis or Memphis. These are the two largest cities or urban centers with 1 million or 1.5 million each, but they don’t make up the bulk of the population if you look at the risk geographically. The balance of the risk of 8 or 9 million people fall in between those two cities in small, rural communities that range from a couple thousand up to 20 or 30 thousand in population.

Really that’s one of the key challenges we have in planning—how do we get resources to that large of a population that is scattered over a very large area? Traditionally, disasters have occurred at a central point or area and you can roll in your resources to the given point and respond accordingly. That poses a whole new challenge to how we approach our planning and the communities that are at risk in a very large area.

On the plus side, we haven’t had the large, damaging earthquake and we hope that it doesn’t occur, but unfortunately we have hundreds of years of building inventory and infrastructure that was not designed for earthquakes. It hasn’t been knocked down so that it can be built back by stronger, better designed buildings like you see in other parts of the country. There’s real vulnerability there. Unfortunately, building codes in the Central U.S. really didn’t focus on the seismic issue until the early nineties, commercial a little bit before residential, so that’s added to the challenge. A lot of communities are just now adopting stronger codes to address the issue. The idea is that we don’t want to be adding to the problem, but to at least adopt codes to improve the situation that doesn’t necessarily change the existing structure that weren’t built to resist earthquakes.

We fully expect this to have a national impact. We look at the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, the Missouri River—those are all major rivers for traffic of goods in and out of the central part of the country. We have distribution points, airlines, warehousing, financial institutions, you name it, it’s in the Central U.S., we are the crossroads of the country, and an earthquake in this area is going to be significant in how we deal not only with immediate response, recovery piece, but how we help the nation at large in making sure that good and services continue to move around the impacted area and trying to avoid that cascading effect.

[Slide 6]

There’s been quite a bit of modeling done to try to get a better handle on these effects and the impacts and one of those models here (which was done in partnership with FEMA and Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs) looks at some of the larger impacts of the disruption caused by a seismic event. These are just preliminary. We’re still working on refining this, but they’re holding true to the assumptions that we had that these would be large losses.

You can see here we’re looking at a 10-day disruption of the local economy upwards of 50 billion dollar impact. At least half to two-thirds is outside of our area. What we have to figure out is when we put our plans together how the decisions we make at the local and state level in our plans and our recovery plans will impact the overall response and losses in other parts of the country. There’s just one sample, and we’ll talk more in a minute about other models that are being done by the Mid-America Earthquake Center at Virginia Tech and George Washington. There are a lot of very skilled, very bright people in different areas, whether it’s social sciences, economics, the risk modeling itself, trying to give us the best handle on really what the impact is going to be at various levels.

[Slide 7]

The idea behind the planning was that this was going to be the bottom-up approach. We held true to that because obviously we need to know what the gaps are. When I say "we", it’s more about what the state and federal government needs to know what the gaps are so they can draft their plans accordingly to be able to address that. They change as you move up.

There are a lot of issues that we see as the planning goes through that are common—communications, transportation, health and medical—but it’s essential to get that input, that piece, from the local and state up to the national so that ultimately FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security ends up with the best plan possible for organizing their response. We believe that it’s been very appropriate. The feedback, the involvement of the local communities has been very positive in that process, that things aren’t being forced upon them. We think in this planning initiative we have taken the right approach to the planning itself.

[Slide 8]

As you can imagine, this is a very complex, a very large undertaking, and in itself that’s a management challenge. We’ve tried to zero in on the key partners, the players that need to be at the table. That’s not to say that that list has been constrained. We allow the list to modify itself as necessary. What you’re looking at here the short list of key players that are a part of the program from the front end, and it is a growing list.

You see here obviously the federal, state, and local participants representing Emergency Management and other areas. The CUSEC states, as Derek mentioned, the eight states. We also have the associate member states to CUSEC and there are nine of those currently. Those are basically the states that surround these original eight. They are now looking at their role in this and their key function is support to the impact states. Again, the list if growing and the challenges to managing that are growing.

I mentioned the Mid-American Earthquake Center. They’re the lead in our modeling initiative, utilizing the FEMA program called HAZUS-MH (we’ll talk about that more in a minute). They’re co-contributors with Virginia Tech Center for Technology, Security and Policy and then George Washington University (Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management). They help shape what the risk is, give us the numbers, the outlook of what we need to be planning for in the course of this activity.

We have four FEMA regions involved in this that fall in the CUSEC area, that’s Regions IV, V, VI and VII. Each of those is critical in their own right to their state but also in their interaction with each other. We know that services and resources need to be moving around the region and making sure that we’re on the same page collectively in that process.

Numerous other organizations, the private sector is critical to this, we’ve been working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, local chambers of commerce, businesses themselves to get their take on this and their involvement in the discussion. Clearly, we want to make sure that decisions we make on the public sector side about dealing with community issues that comes up, parts of the infrastructure that were brought back up, are in line with some of their expectations. Commerce has got to keep moving. Speed in which a community bounces back is directly tied to those businesses. That has to be factored in, so we want to be sure that business and industry are key in this process.

[Slide 9]

This is a multi-year initiative. We’ve been at it about 2 ½ years. We started at the local level and we had a series of workshops, varied in state to state to the exact approach, but basically states worked with their local communities to get input into the planning process, then we moved up to the state.

Now we’re currently in the midst of regional planning. The first region is FEMA Region V, Chicago, to complete their workshop and now we’re setting our sights on Region VI. We’ll complete four of those regions by early summer and be ready to begin pulling those together as a regional plan. The idea is it can’t be done overnight, it is a multi-year, multi-task approach. We’re targeting by the fall of this year, 2009, to have the integration workshop which brings all the things we’ve done to this point together. In 2010 we begin working on setting our sights toward the exercise and incorporating all we’ve learned.

[Slide 10]

Some basic goals, as you would have with any initiative. As I mentioned earlier, we have plans in many cases that existed at the state and local levels for dealing with earthquake events. We know those need to be improved and that’s what we used this opportunity to do, and to develop additional plans as necessary so that we are ready.

On the DHS side, obviously they are in the process of developing plans specific to this hazard to complement the National Response Framework. This is the independent institution to catastrophic planning annex that will be meeting one of many hazards identified in that plan with specific hazards.

Planning is not something that can be done and put on a shelf. It’s the intent of the Board of Directors, the intent of CUSEC states, that we’ll continue to push. We’re looking at new priorities, new focus areas that need to be addressed. Right now we have only identified the short list in our plans that we have considered to be the first steps, the critical steps, and we need to need to take those next steps. I’ll talk a little bit about that in a moment.

We are using the best models we can get our hands on. In this case we’re using hazards, HAZUS-MH (multi-hazards), to drive our planning. Even through the course of the planning itself, we’ve seen improvements in the models based on the work that we’ve been doing with that program. I think across the board, the planning has benefitted in many areas.

[Slide 11]

I’ll spend a few minutes to talk about the modeling, and who is doing that and set the baseline for what we’re using. As I mentioned, we’re working with the Mid-America Earthquake Center, George Washington, and Virginia Tech to develop the model. The baseline science behind this was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, and our state geological survey, CUSEC state geologists, which helped provide a lot of soil data, the compaction data, that plugged into the model.

We are operating under planning assumptions that this is a magnitude 7.7 event. That’s based off a recommendation by the U.S. Geological Survey that this is the upper end of what they feel a credible event, not to say it couldn’t be larger or smaller, but this is the upper end of what they feel comfortable with the science that is supporting the hazard. So the 7.7 is plugged into the model and the soil data provided by the USGS and state surveys is a key piece of that.

We also did some modeling in two other areas. The Wabash Valley, to help provide some of the worst case for some of the state planning. For the Wabash, we’re looking at a 7.0 event. For East Tennessee, the Seismic Zone was upper 6. The three events were all used to help drive the planning with New Madrid being the primary point of focus for the planning itself.

The early initial work that we had done, maybe four or five years ago, was provided by a project that CUSEC had done and it was really just a level 1 analysis using HAZUS as kind of a starting point. We’ve gone well beyond that—level 3 analysis and lots of really good input data into the model to make a very good assessment of what we’re up against.

[Slide 12]

I touched on this briefly, previously. The workshops themselves, the level workshops, we have completed the state and local workshops in the eight states. There is some additional work going on where are gaps that were identified that needed to be followed up on, so we’re working at the local level to fill those.

We’re currently in the process of going through the regional workshops. The Region V workshop was completed about three weeks ago. Region VI is coming up in about three weeks—that will be in Little Rock, Arkansas. And then we’ll be in Jefferson City, Missouri for Region VII and be closing out in Atlanta with Region IV. The idea is that each of these regional workshops will be using the platform to get input into their plans so that each of those regions has a plan for supporting their member states, Region IV being the largest of those. That information all gets rolled up into the integration workshop which takes place in the fall of this year.

[Slide 13]

Obviously, we have to have a set of priorities that help drive the planning and discussions. Initially, there were a list of priorities that you’re looking at, they’re the multi-state priorities that were established by the CUSEC Board. For those of you who are not familiar with CUSEC per se, my Board of Directors is actually the State Emergency Management Directors of the eight states I represent. The natural connection is between what we do at the regional level and what they focus on at the state level.

These are the list of priorities that have been defined as mutually of interest, mutually desired to be addressed by eight states, the transmission network, health, all these things are interconnected and things we need to be cognizant of in our planning. In pretty much all eight states, these same priorities were adopted as state level priorities as well, with some additional priorities. There’s some uniformity across the line on this.

The last bullet, the Post Earthquake Investigation Clearinghouse, is a secondary priority in the sense that it’s really something that’s being driven by our folks at the U. S. Geological Survey and the Association of CUSEC State Geologists, as they develop their operational plans for what they do as researchers in responding after the event. They don’t just monitor the event, they actually go out and look at landslides, and liquefaction, and water quality and all sorts of things that are going to critical to us in Emergency Management, so it’s one of the priority areas that we want to support.

[Slide 14]

This is the larger list, if you will, of areas of emphasis that have been incorporated into the planning. There are additional areas, but this is a short breakdown of that. I think you can see there are the usual suspects that typically emerge in any large disaster, and New Madrid is not unlike any other. We’re doing our best to make sure we’re hitting the key areas of focus and the plans address these accordingly.

[Slide 15]

The final output, or products, if you will, for the planning initiative as I said—state and local committees, we have plans in place. We’ll have improved plans in addition to new plans if necessary that will continue to evolve. The plans are being developed at the regional and national level that don’t exist, specifically for New Madrid, that will complement National Response Framework.

What do we do with risk reduction measures? We want to make sure that this is not just a response/recovery type project, but it needs to include the big issues of planning. Improvement of those plans, one thing we’re encouraging is the adoption of the scenarios and models that have been used to drive operational planning, the feeling that those ought to be adopted across the board in all program areas so that we are operating off a common page. Those will improve the big issue plans themselves. The regional plans that will be created, and finally the national plans themselves, as part of the National Framework.

[Slide 16]

In May 2011, our intention is to test these plans. Part of what used to be called the "TOPOFF", is now called the National Level Exercise or NLE, and this will be a major event, as topoffs of the past, a major event that will include exercising some local events all the way to the White House. This is the best way in which we can look at the plans we’ve been working on at various levels and look at the complexities and challenges that are posed in responding to an event, short of actually having it. We’re putting a lot of investment into this exercise.

[Slide 17]

We have already set up a working group at the state level—the exercise officers of the eight CUSEC states, they’ve already done a lot of work. They’re ahead of the game in the sense that they’ve created a lot of objectives that will be addressed. We’ve set the timeline for play for getting to the event and actual play. There’s a lot of progress well ahead of the game which is very beneficial.

Some of this could change, but the exercise play itself is set for five days in the initial week, with different phases of that, and then there’ll be an additional couple of weeks after that spread out over a period of time which will look at more of the long-term recovery issues, and sort of wrap it all up. It’s a very aggressive undertaking to put on an event like this. It’s not your typical exercise by any means.

[Slide 18]

Managing it is going to be the greatest challenge and keeping it confined within the parameters that we all agreed to with the various representations, at this point, basically state and federal partners. We have developed these overarching objectives to help do that, to keep us within some parameters.

There are many subsets of all these, but these are the basics: communications, critical resource logistics and distribution, mass care (sheltering, feeding and related services), citizen evacuation and shelter-in-place (that’s a huge issue right now as to what really will happen), and emergency public information and warning. We want to make sure we have the best mechanism possible to let the people and elected officials and everybody know what’s occurred. Those are the basic overarching objectives as they stand at this point. That’s not to say that one or two might be added or addressed later on, but at this point we feel pretty comfortable that it covers the majority of the bases, what plans have been built around and what we’re trying to address.

[Slide 19]

We’ve got to bring it to a close. The New Madrid scenario, if you spend any time looking at it and listen to any of the leading professionals in the field of geology and seismology, clearly you know this is a unique hazard that poses some really unique challenges for us in Emergency Management given the regional influence that it has. The risk itself is tremendous - the vulnerability to the infrastructure, the age of the infrastructure, the interconnectivity activities of the infrastructure, all of those play into the challenges that we have. Any sane person would probably take a look at this and say "We can’t do this".

We have very much tried to carve this up in manageable pieces so that we can make a discernable difference in our planning and preparation for the New Madrid event. I think it is a very solid approach to this type of hazard. By doing that, though, unfortunately, it takes longer to get to the end. This is not something that is going to be done this year or next year. The CUSEC states will begin to take a look at a new set of priorities that will define the next three to five years of planning, and what we need to be looking at as eight individual states and all the other subsets of that. The work is not done and we have a lot to do.

Areas of pressure for the nation at large, I think, are going to begin to have an influence on the discussion, the socio-economic impact. At this point, the target is to get us to 2011, to test our plans that we have in place and see what the next steps will be.

[Slide 20]

Just a quick rundown on our planning: we’re well beyond, we’re into 2009, so we are a little bit behind the original timeline where we were doing the integration workshop (we’re actually doing that this year, 2009) but I think we’ll be right on target with the exercise in 2011.

[Slide 21]

Training and leadership exercises are already underway in 2009, so I think we’re in good shape to get into 2011.

[Slide 22]

If you’re interested or if you need clarification, if we don’t get to it in the question/answer portion today, here’s how you reach me. I’m Jim Wilkinson. There’s Derek Estes, and our phone numbers and emails and if you’re interested in finding out more about modeling, the nuances there and the details, you can go to the Mid-America Earthquake Center website, or you can contact Dr. Amr Elnashai or Dr. Theresa Jefferson for additional information.

[Slide 23]

I’ll just leave that up there for a minute. I believe that’s the final slide.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Joseph Allen: It’s often said that government alone will not be able to support this size of a catastrophe. How is private industry involved in the planning process?

Derek Estes: No, we know in a disaster of this scale, there’s no way the federal government would be able to adequately respond. In fact, a lot of the damage to this would be to critical infrastructure—electric lines, fiber optic lines, transmission lines for natural gas and oil, and many of those things—so the private sector is heavily engaged in just the infrastructure piece. But from the private sector piece at a local level, just sort of be there to provide food and water and things like that—there are going to be a lot of organic resources that have to be available when this occurs just because of the time lag that government would have to adequately respond to addressing the needs from a mass care perspective.

Also, speaking along those lines, there’s personal preparedness. People should have enough supplies to take care of themselves for at least 3 days. That would help immensely, because the government just can’t do the type of response on this scale. We have to plan in other ways to take care of ourselves before the government can take care of others. Jim?

Jim Wilkinson: Directly, I’ll get to the question in the sense that we’ve had individuals from various prominent companies in the central US involved coming to the workshops, engaged in the conversations, taking time out of their schedules to be a part of the process. I think one of the areas we’re lacking in that concerns me the most is the small to medium sized businesses that typically don’t have the resources to have an emergency planner on staff, or have a contingency plan. These are the bulk of the employers in our communities. These are the ones we really need to be reaching out to and figuring out a way to get them involved in the discussion. What are their needs and expectations of the government, whether it’s federal, state, or local government, so that we’re ready to address that need?

Ian Hay: What private sector partners are 'directly' involved in the planning for NMSZ? For example, both FedEx and UPS have their main 'hubs' within the affected zone.

Jim Wilkinson: Well, you mentioned one. FedEx is one of the partners that has been involved in a number of the workshops in Tennessee. They’ve been active in discussions and other areas, mitigation-wise. We’ve got some private utilities that have been actively involved. Those are the big guys that have been attending.

As I mentioned, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has hosted a number of activities and workshops. We’ve met directly with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and held presentations for the members to pull in their participation. It’s a challenge in a sense that we in the public sector operate differently, our missions and goals and what drives us to do things are different in what you’d see in the private sector, which is more of a bottom-line driven approach. The concerns we have in a worst-case scenario may not be the same parameters they look at in a local, business-sector.

The challenge for us is to figure out ways to meet in the middle so that our planning can help them in the course of meeting their needs and vice versa. Clearly, there are a lot of businesses out there that represent resources. I think a lot of people look to companies for the widget—what can you bring to help us in a disaster? But there’s a lot more to it than that. The liability to the business is critical to this in addition to what they might bring to help us.

Lise Northey: Have you developed a methodology for resource prioritization during the response?

Derek Estes: We’re driving towards that. From going from a local level up to the state level to the federal/regional level to the federal level, what we’re doing is basically a capability assessment or a gap assessment, if you will. We’re driving up to sort of get the full picture of what we’re faced with. We’ve already done an interim-contingency plan for this earthquake, so we know how we would execute in a philosophical sense and in a real sense.

Prioritizing resources really depends on what happens, where it happens, and how it happens. Based on that, we would have to apply resources based on a priority as we see them at the time. Jim went through the slides and you looked at these are the big things that we’re worried about. You’re basically going to apply the resources concurrently with what the biggest things are—with taking care of people, in whatever way that requires. You’re looking at search and rescue, you’re looking at evacuation, and you’re looking at sheltering and care and things like that. That’s what resource prioritization is and depending on what sort of situation or awareness we get, to sort of understand where this is and the scale of it. That’s how we would apply that.


Keri Zaleski: What extent of local emergency management participation is anticipated for the May 2011 exercise?

Jim Wilkinson: That’s going to vary from state to state. That’s a point of discussion between the state Emergency Management and the local community. In some states, let’s say Tennessee for instance, it’s pretty much an obvious that Memphis, Tennessee will want to test the capacity to respond, it’s a major urban center. In other areas, it may be that smaller communities want to test some piece of their planning. Really, it’s a discussion we’re leaving to the states and locals to have. We will facilitate that as necessary, to go out and secure the funding to help that happen.

An exercise this large, there will be some parameters placed on it. We can’t have everybody play, at least within the certain framework. That’s not to say that independently others can’t play. We have exercised in the past like that. We had an exercise called SONS 07 that took place in May of 2007 in which there was a lot of flexibility and the systems allowed communities to play outside the defined parameters. We are looking at that. The working group I mentioned, the Exercise Officers Working Group, which is made of state exercise officers, are working to get input from their local communities to see what the priorities are, the issues, the level of play they might want to engage in, whether it’s full scale or some other. At this point, it’s open and it’s really a point of discussion between state and local as to what extent they’ll play.

John: Great presentation on New Madrid planning and exercising. Is there a corresponding training component?

Derek Estes: We’re working on that, yes. That’s developing. We’ve identified resources for it, and we’re just trying to figure out what it would look like and what path we’re going to take.

Jim Wilkinson: We have a number of in-house training courses we’ve developed in association with this that we’re offering currently. We just completed two of those. Right now they’re on the medical side. We have Disaster Medicine 101 and we’re about to hold Disaster Medicine 201. These are specific to earthquake injuries and earthquake challenges we would see in the medical area. We are in the process of developing additional training for the planning itself.

We know in past experiences that there are certain elements that need to be supported through the training. We see that as essential to getting us to the exercise. As the planning is ramping down, we’ll enter a period of heightened training, and as we work toward the exercise itself.

Amy Sebring: As you both know, CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Teams) started out there in California in response to earthquakes. Has CERT been involved in any organized way?

Jim Wilkinson: I know certain members have been at the planning workshops. As to whether they’ve had a direct input into the planning discussion, I don’t know that. I do know they have been at the workshops and have been involved in the overall discussion and the breakouts that have taken place.

Derek Estes: I’ll add, not specifically from a CERT perspective, but from a community preparedness perspective, that we are getting a fuller picture of what we may face in a New Madrid type event. We’re also, based on some of the other initiatives that we have ongoing and are further ahead in their planning processes, we are looking at solutions that we can bring to CERT and CERT can bring to us, and sort of integrate those potential solutions as far as community involvement.

Benjamin Davies: Have systems been put in place to provide for, or even gauge the needs of evacuated or sheltered children (beyond putting them in a "special needs" category)? Child specific issues that have been overlooked in the past but should be addressed include: systems for counting, feeding, clothing, providing for proper sanitation for toddlers and infants and family unification; also coordination between all K-12 schools and (public and private) child care centers with local emergency responders for basic preparedness standards and tracking of child locations and populations. Thank you.

Jim Wilkinson: From the state perspective, I’m not aware of specific planning targeted at children. Obviously, sheltering needs and special population needs is being looked at. We typically see the elderly and children in that category. This is not a situation in which there’ll be anything unique in how we shelter people. I think those issues that were brought up in the question really are central to any disaster in looking at how we handle a population. Those are the kinds of things that donations managers and shelter managers and groups that really work in those areas, those are the things they’ll be charged with, to make improvements as they’re necessary.

Derek Estes: I’ll second that. The thing about New Madrid or another catastrophic event, especially New Madrid, is the scale of this. The scale and the ability to do what you need to do in a timely matter based on the fact that there are going to be so many resource requirements and needs.

Amy Sebring:
I saw the note on one of your slides as far as the participants; you had the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. I would see that as key, since the federal government is not going to be able to everything. Could you tell us a little bit more about how they’re involved?

Jim Wilkinson: This goes way back to the CUSEC states in the mid-1980’s, in which the states initially put together what was called the Interstate Mutual Aid Compact, and many states still have that on the books, and it was an agreement to work together and help each other. Many years later that has evolved to become what is now known as EMAC, which is a nationwide program of states supporting each other.

We have had some additional discussions with NEMA (the National Emergency Management Association) where EMAC is headquartered. The incoming Chair, David Maxwell, from the state of Arkansas, is an area he has expressed some interest in. Really at this point, it has been more about the neighboring states’ support to the impact states above and beyond EMAC as just a good neighbor.

We saw in most recently the ice storm that came through, where Tennessee was aiding Kentucky a lot in that scenario. We suspect that will continue the trend. The Ohio director, and we discussed this, he’s the current NEMA President, and the importance of the associate states both as EMAC and just neighboring states. Clearly, EMAC is going to be stretched to its limits like never before in a scenario like this. Part of what we need to look at are the protocols there to allow for such a mass confusion of requests, or do we need to start to compartmentalize in a way that certain states are going to come to the aid of certain states, or certain regions to the aid of certain regions? We’re in the initial stages of talking to the EMAC organizational management about all of this and it’s really going to become highlighted more so in these regional integration workshops.

Justin Adams: Are there any plans to use IRIS Software for your Resource Management Solution?

Derek Estes: No, we haven’t gone down that path yet.

Jim Wilkinson: The only thing that’s in place at this point is that we have established a GIS working group. These are the persons within each of the states that are responsible for implementing GIS systems in the states, putting up with a lot of changes nationwide with protocols and structures, and we’re relying on that working group to help us look at these issues. At this point that’s as far as we’ve gone.

Isabel McCurdy: Jim, is Canada involved in this consortium?

Derek Estes: They surely are. They’re going to help us a lot, I suspect. At FEMA’s Disaster Operation, where I work, we actually have a liaison from Public Safety Canada that is with us on a detail and she is working on that project with us.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Jim and Derek for an excellent job. This planning seems to be an enormous effort, and we wish you success with the project in the future, and especially your exercise!

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