EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — August 12, 2009

FEMA Gap Analysis Program (G.A.P.)
Understanding and Addressing Disaster Response Shortfalls

Paul K. Schwartz
Chief of Operational Integrity, Operations Management Division
Disaster Operations Directorate, 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/FEMA/FEMAGapAnalysis.pdf for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org. Today’s topic is the FEMA Gap Analysis Program, which seeks to identify response shortfalls at the state and local levels during the first 72 hours of an emergency or disaster. The ultimate goal is to narrow or eliminate identified gaps in the years to come.

An essential part of the analysis process is data collection, and our guest will describe a tool that has been developed for that purpose.

[Slide 1]

Please note, a link to access the FEMA GAP guidance document, issued this past March, is posted on the Background Page for today’s session. [http://www.emforum.org/vforum/FEMA/Gap%20Analysis%20Program%20Guidance%2003-13-2009.pdf]

A related survey on our home page asks, "What is your most serious gap: Equipment, Manpower, Planning or Supplies?" Please take a moment to participate and review the results thus far.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guest. Paul K. Schwartz has been directly responsible for developing and managing the Gap Analysis Program at FEMA, where he currently serves as Chief of Operational Integrity for the Operations Management Division in the Disaster Operations Directorate. His federal government career spans more than 35 years, including 3 years with DHS HQ, and nearly 30 years with the U.S. Customs service, prior to joining FEMA in 2006.

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


Paul Schwartz: Thanks very much, Amy. What I’d like to do in today’s session is give everyone a sense of where we are with this program, how we got here, but more importantly, where we hope to take it.

The first thing I want to make clear is, with new leadership in place, we’re taking a close look at all of the programs, not just this program, but certainly this program as well, to really make sure that it supports the direction that leadership wants to go.

As a matter of fact, we’re also even changing the name of it. We felt that "gap" itself has somewhat of a negative connotation. We don’t want to have anything associated with anything negative when the intent of the program is really to help all of the different entities within the Emergency Management community.

[Slide 2]

Essentially, the focus of the program (and it’s more of a concept than a program) is how to improve the planning process, particularly the catastrophic disasters. That’s critical because from a national standpoint, that is our number one concern—being prepared as much as possible for the event of a major national disaster with national impact.

So what is the concept that we’re talking about here? It’s very simple, as Amy alluded to, it’s basically—regardless of what planning goes on—you have to start with what are the requirements for a particular scenario and what are the capabilities. When you subtract the capabilities from the requirements, that’s something that has to be addressed.

We called it a gap—it’s a shortfall, it’s a vulnerability. It could be a vulnerability that has to be addressed at the state level, the local level, or the federal level.

There was a need for this concept because of our experience with Hurricane Katrina, where it became clear that it wasn’t enough to sit back at the federal government level, and wait for the event, and then have the state tell us what it needs when it needs it, if we didn’t take into consideration the planning that needed to be addressed before that event occurred. It was too late at that stage.

We need to have something in place where we’re able to have a better idea, a better understanding of what we might be called on to support the states before the need to do that. That’s basically the advent of this Gap Analysis program, soon to be called something else.

The post-Katrina Emergency Management format made it clear that not only was a great responsibility with the federal government to support the state preparedness and work with them (which hopefully through this program we do), but in addition, we have to be better prepared to identify what we might have to do, to bring to the table, in that event.

Initially, the program focused on the response to major hurricanes. We focused on the 18 states along the Atlantic and Gulf, but also included Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and District of Columbia. We looked at it as a Response Operations Planning tool.

When we rolled it out in 2007 for that first hurricane season, the critical areas that we needed to focus on were identified as evacuation, commodity distribution, sheltering, communications (which is primarily interoperability), fuel availability along the evacuation routes, medical needs, debris removal, and interim housing.

[Slide 3]

This year we changed the categories somewhat, based on input from subject matter experts, and we felt that the focus—we want to keep this as simple and relevant as possible, so we had to cut to the chase as far as what are the key things that we have to focus on.

The categories for this year are transportation and evacuation as a whole, mass care (which would include sheltering), resource management (which would include all the logistics and commodities aspects), public health and medical needs, communication again, emergency power, and search and rescue. We need to get a handle on those issues, as do the states and locals have to handle on those issues. The key is to support the planning efforts.

In a collaborative way, the purpose is twofold: by assistance to the states to enable them to identify potential shortfalls in key categories well prior to the event, but just as importantly, to enable the federal government to become aware of what it may called upon to provide in assistance to a state, well prior to an event, to serve as a basis for any planning efforts.

In other words, you want the basis of any planning efforts at any level and at any point in time (and this is critical) at any point in time—the planning doesn’t happen just before the advent of an event or disaster, it has to continue on even during the response to that event—we want the basis of that planning to be on real information and real data, as hard numbers as we can.

Now, the key point is, where are we headed? It is extremely important that this program not be viewed as a stand-alone program but rather as a tool to assist in the collection in that information that I referred to, that enables us to make decisions for prioritizing limited resources, both prior to the next disaster, to assist in a pre-disaster preparation, and during our coordinated response to a specific disaster as circumstances change and requirements change in light of the mentioned resources and capability.

That is critical, and that, more than anything, is the new direction that we’re taking this program. Before, we were always focused on prior to the event. Now we’re looking at it as, you know what? You need real information as the circumstances change during the event. It’s not just pre-, and then we’re done. What is the impact of that disaster?

For example, situation reports—those constantly have to be issued during a response and those numbers are constantly going to be changing. This mechanism will enable us to have a handle on how those numbers are changing. That impacts how we’re going to look at, 3 to 5 days out, for example, on what the impact of those changing numbers are, so that we don’t look at each thing as it occurs, but try to plan as things are developing.

Another key aspect in the direction we’re trying to take this is it is extremely important that we work with our states and our FEMA regions and through our interagency departments, specifically the Emergency Support Functions Agency leads, that this information gathering that everyone needs and is going to make use of is done without over-burdening the states and the locals. Once it becomes a burden, it’s not going to succeed. This is something that we feel is a benefit to all participants.

As a result, as we look to move to expand this concept beyond just hurricanes to all hazards, specifically with the catastrophic planning, to cover both notice and no-notice events, we took a hard look at how to revamp this program to create a much more collaborative approach with the interagency community, state and local governments, private sector, non-government organizations, which highlight the benefits of basing our decisions on that real data that’s being collected.

[Slide 4]

How do we do this? How do we facilitate this? What we have done, is first we felt there was a need for actual doctrine to capture how this process works. That was one of the push-backs we got over the first couple of years of this. Everyone bought into the concept that you have to base things on information, but how does it actually work? How do you do this in a way that is not burdensome?

We issued a GAP Guidance Document, which Amy had mentioned before, that you have access to, just to provide some guidance on how you would do that.

In that document there is an actual life cycle for each of the steps that has to be done in order to select the disaster scenario, estimate the response requirements, measure the baseline preparedness, define the shortfalls, develop and implement strategies in a collaborative way (with the ESS, with the interagency departments, with the states and locals, with the regions, with all the players) to develop strategies to help collaboratively address those shortfalls, and then to apply lessons learned.

That basically is the essence of the Guidance Document, and that would be for both notice and no-notice events. As we move to all hazards, what was of concern is that with a notice event, you pretty much have down what your requirements are. With a no-notice, it’s very difficult to figure that out.

What we incorporated vastly into that program now is the use of modeling capabilities. Modeling capabilities we already have, looking to NISAC to improve that, working with Army Corps to support the FEMA regions as they work with different interagency emergency management partners, to come up with the requirements through modeling.

Whether for a New Madrid Zone event, or the next hurricane, Midwest floods, whatever the threat is that stretches limited resources, the models can be used to come up with the requirements that would be used to see if the capabilities that we have at different governmental levels (federal, state, and local) are sufficient.

[Slide 5]

The other key piece is this thing that you have on the screen is the automated tool.

Prior to this year, we had templates out there with questions to guide the collection of this information, but this year we developed this automated tool which makes it a lot more user friendly, a lot clearer on what questions need to be answered to give all the collaborative partners a better understanding of what needs to be done, where we might have the shortfalls that need to be addressed.

The tool, basically, can be used to help identify the data that needs to be collected and then used to calculate the shortfalls. What needs to be remembered is that this is a tool and it’s not the only way to collect information. For those entities that are in the process of trying to collect this information for their own purposes, this tool really helps them out a great deal.

[Slide 6]

We have already made adjustments to the tool to accommodate the catastrophic planning effort to build greater flexibility in identifying planning assumptions. The planning assumptions we initially built into it were primarily for the hurricane. Now we’ve built in flexibility to adapt it to catastrophic planning.

We worked extensively with subject matter experts and all stakeholders in coming up with the tool to insure the relevancy of the questions populating the tool. If nothing was to be done with the answer to any question, the question was dropped. Specifically, the initial reiteration of the survey back a couple of years, had 328 questions. By going through this process to make sure that whatever is in this tool is relevant and useful to all parties, we dropped it to 135 questions with those categories that I had mentioned before (evacuation, sheltering, etc.). That’s a 58% reduction. But as a result, we feel that we are creating a true benefit, and have really worked hard to lift any perceived burden.

On this note, an Emergency Manager in one of the west coast states was recently quoted (and I won’t say who it is), but he was quoted as saying that the data collection tool, which is this tool, and process overall, has matured over these 2 years to this point now to the point where the time expended will be offset by the value of the data collected. That, to me, is the most important thing that I could have heard, that we’re actually changing and adapting this process, this concept to be useful for everyone to use.

Again, it’s not mandatory, but if you want to base your decisions on how you’re prioritizing your capabilities, you need to have some idea how those capabilities are compared against the requirements for any specific event.

So as a tool itself, the data collection and analysis tool allows for the definition of multiple scenarios. The tool accepts key model consequences, for example, of a model consequence impact of population and number of buildings damaged, and generates response requirement based on the subject matter expert defined planning factors.

For example, when we talk about planning factors, we’re talking about 3 liters of water per person per day, and two blankets per person in a shelter. That’s just a basis to give context to the information collected.

If, for example, the event is something that occurs in the desert, you may want to relook at the planning staff, because maybe you need more water than 3 liters per person per day. That’s why we had to build in that flexibility to change those factors to fit the scenario specifically, like the catastrophic planning that we would have in the New Madrid Zone.

New upgrades to the tool allow for that flexibility and generated requirements by customizing the planning factors. The tool can then compare the data collected, the capabilities, with the requirements generated by the tool showing a projected shortfall. This, again, is critical for the planning efforts that have to take place.

The tool is able to generate several reports intended to provide a snapshot of projected shortfalls. The process intends to drive discussion at all levels. It’s not intended where you have all the answers from this, but at least it gives you a starting point to work with your partners to come up with the questions that need to be worked. The process intends to drive discussion at all levels of government, with support from NGOs and private sector on how to address those potential shortfalls.

Those are basically my opening comments, but I wanted to walk you a little bit, just to get a sense of how this is plugged in. If you use the Guidance document, and you get an understanding, then this will make a lot more sense. We also have user guides that go along with the tool itself which explains how it works.

This first one is the scenario details that you would plug in. It leads you to coming up with the estimated requirements, the actual requirements.

[Slide 7]

That’s the slide that’s on the screen now. You could see that if the estimated requirements from the modeling that took place in the previous slide, if that reflects the reality that the subject matter experts, and the states, the locals, the feds, feel are the right numbers, then you would put that as the actual numbers.

[Slide 8]

This is just a slide on the planning factors, to give you details to what the numbers really mean.

[Slide 9]

Then you start answering the questions that come up. These are both planning questions, which are on the screen now, and then quantifiable questions, which give you the hard numbers.

[Slide 10]

You can see in this one, this is for the logistics management and resource support. In order to identify what a need is, you have to look at all the sources of the information. You have third party resources, state resources, EMACs, MOUs, non-government organizations, and that will lead you to coming up with where you actually have the shortfalls.

[Slide 11]

Then, a shortfall alone, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a shortfall of major concern, if the federal government, for example, has the capability to offset it. Where there’s real concern is prior to an event, is if we find out even the federal government has to work to find out a way because it’s not that readily available—that’s something we really want to red flag.

[Slide 12]

So that is it basically in a nutshell and I will turn it back over to Amy to start us on Q&A portion of the program.

Amy Sebring: Thank you Paul. Before we get to the Q&A, I want to clarify just one question with you on the data collection tool. Is this something that is being done at the state level, or local, sub-state areas have access to this tool as well?

Paul Schwartz: There’s a local jurisdiction portion of it, there’s a state portion, but the key is working collaboratively with the feds. We work through our regions. We don’t work directly with the states and the locals. This is for FEMA regions to work with them in support by bringing in the interagency community, the ESFs.

The data that we wanted collected would be of value at the local level, the state level and the federal level. The tool is there to assist in that collection of information. If you don’t capture both the local and the state, you don’t get a full picture.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Paul. Now, let’s open it up to our participants here today.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

David Munro: My question is two-part and focuses on federal-tribal, and tribal-state relations (keeping in mind that local governments are subdivision of state government) as related to this program. Page 7 of the GAP Program Guidance goes only as far as to say, "[s]tates are encouraged to engage their tribal counterparts in the performance of GAP." Why doesn’t FEMA go as far as requiring states to work with the tribes (in line with the FEMA-Tribal Policy)? The second part of my question is, since certain states have a significant number of tribes (i.e. California) in their boundaries, how does FEMA validate the state GAP assumptions as related to tribal governments? My second question is directly related to GAP objectives 1 & 4; if a tribal government is not "engaged" during a state GAP, how are needs of tribes being met and how does FEMA measure success toward meeting these objectives?

Paul Schwartz: The key is, we are not in a position to require anyone or anything, including the states, to participate in this. For the states who do choose to participate for their benefit, they’re not going to have a true assessment of their capabilities if they don’t include everyone, including the tribes. It’s to their benefit to include everyone to get a good handle on the real numbers.

A lot of this is estimating. It’s not where we expect that we’re going to need exactly 300,000 widgets for a specific event, because there’s no way of ever getting to that level of specificity. We want to get as close as possible. In order to do that, we make it clear that we want as much input from as many resources as possible.

To the tribes, non-government organizations, private sector, etcetera, all to make this as close to accurate as possible, have to be factored in. Again, I also want to say we can’t mandate that the states do it, let alone mandate to the states that they must require the tribes to participate. It’s in their best interest that everybody participates.

David Endicott: How does this relate to or complement the pilot Capability Assessment Tool and process based on Target Capabilities that has been in use for several years?

Paul Schwartz: As far as the Target Capabilities, that is being looked at and is being revised. We are participating on those groups to revise that. Keep in mind the Target Capabilities List is something like 600 pages. We do have links in that tool you saw that link up to wherever an issue or question or item in the tool that could be connected to one of the Target Capabilities. That part of the tool does take you there. There is an automatic link that you would be able to hit the icon and it would take you there.

Basically, as we are working on these groups to revise the Target Capabilities List, we are looking always to insure greater linkage between the different programs. It goes beyond this program and the Target Capabilities, but all the FEMA programs, we want greater linkage.

One thing we want to avoid at all costs is the perception of these different programs not being linked up, being sent out to the states and whomever, and just not being coordinated in anyway. That is not going to continue. This new administration made it clear that that is not the way we operate.

J.R. Jones: Is there a way to survey, assess and factor in personal preparedness i.e. water, bedding, tents, food, specific evacuation?

Paul Schwartz: We would hope that is captured to the extent that locals are aware of that, that would be factored in. We want to factor in anything that contributes to the capability.

Amy Sebring: We’re well aware that some areas of the country may be less economically advantaged, have to rely more on assistance from the government—is that reflected in some of the calculations based on population demographics? Does the tool go that far?

Paul Schwartz: It takes a look at what the locals are capable of providing for themselves. Take a city like New York City. They have a large budget to cover this. In commodities, they have a lot stockpiled. But there’s still going to be a point, depending on the nature of the event, there will be a point in time where they will have exhausted their stockpile. Other locations may not even be able to go as long as they can.

These are things that the state needs to know, that we need to know, that our interagency department need to know, Department of Defense (which is probably the resource of last resort, but still, something that we might have to turn to). We need to have an idea of what different localities, different states, different entities might be in need of in a particular situation. These need to be factored in, and it is, in terms of what their capabilities are.

Amy Sebring: I was thinking more specifically of the public aspect of this. The demand may be higher in some areas than others for assistance. But I guess you showed that you do have the flexibility to adjust those planning factors.

Paul Schwartz: That’s factored in with the modeling, too. Depending on what the modeling shows, then those requirements and those capabilities would vary. That’s why the modeling is so critical to this, because we don’t have to rely just on past experience.

We get hurricanes every year (although hopefully not this year) but the earthquakes and New Madrid Zone issues, those we don’t have the data to compare against the capabilities, so at least the modeling does that. That also applies to any of these factors, when you don’t know exactly what the requirements might be for a location, we can have the modeling come up with those numbers.

Dwayne Mooney: Thanks for the overview. Since the focus of the GAP analysis is data collection at this point in time, is any significant time being spent on improving and better coordinating the response team(s) during the event, or does that not become a primary focus until the current analysis is complete?

Paul Schwartz: Those response teams are collecting information on that. It’s not just about hard numbers; it’s a question of capability. The response teams are a category that we have this year that we didn’t have in previous years, because we really do want to get a handle on what the local and state pitfalls are so that we’re in position to know what they might be needing in terms of response teams from the federal level.

Marianne Pollay: When would the tool be used? Would this be a tool like HAZUS that local municipalities could use in developing their emergency response plans? Why wouldn't feds require usage as a requirement for receiving FEMA hazard mitigation funding? What about testing? Are Feds working on a template for a complimentary tool structured to gauge response ability? E.g., New Orleans had a $500k emergency response plan that was unworkable apparently.

Paul Schwartz: First, we would want them to use it anytime, as soon as possible, because we want any of the planning efforts that are going on to be reflected in real numbers and real information. We’re working with the grants people here to incorporate language where, depending on the different grants, the states would have access to grant money to utilize this and to build capability.

We don’t have the authority, even during Katrina—the big question was, why doesn’t the federal government just come in? There are state’s rights (I know in the Civil War there was a pause to that) but state’s rights still exist. The states have the legal authority, with their locals actually, it’s always bottom up. If your house is on fire, it’s a waste for the federal government to come in to put it out, you want the local fire department to come in.

It’s only when the disasters get elevated beyond the capabilities of the local government and state government that it gets to the federal. But we don’t have the authority (we have more authority with the post-Katrina Emergency Management format than we had) but we still don’t have the authority to tell states that we’re taking over unless they’re being overwhelmed.

It’s not like we can just tell them that they have to do these things—it’s for their benefit. We don’t have legislation in place that we can just demand that they do certain things. But, we’re trying to give them the carrot, which would be the grant money. There is a link to grants and how to use the grant money to support these kinds of efforts, and this particular program is mentioned in a few of the grant programs.

John Wiecjorek: What is the capability of the DCAT to track resources during an event?

Paul Schwartz: The tool is just that it’s a tool. The key is collecting information. Just like you need to collect information in your pre-event planning, you need to track that information during your response to a particular event. The tool does have that capability, but it’s not the only thing that should be used, and it’s not the only thing that can be used. As long as we’re able to track how the numbers and the information is changing as reflected in the Situation report, that’s fine. If someone wants to use this tool to really get more detailed, it’s available for that use. It’s certainly can serve that purpose.

It’s more than just data collection (we’ve collected a lot of data already), the focus is what to do with that information. That collaborative effort is the most important part of this concept. It’s working together, the mitigation strategy (not mitigation as mitigation) to address what you find with the data was collected. It’s so much more than data collection, but we want that data collection as a basis for the activities that occur afterward.

Andrew Feeney: In relation to a State being "overwhelmed," is there a definition of this?

Paul Schwartz: It’s a declaration process. That declaration process could be done by request of the state, or the President of the United States could make that declaration, in which case, because they’re overwhelmed, then we still would not just go in and take over because we wouldn’t be effective that way, but we wouldn’t have to wait to be asked to come in—we’d go in and work with the state even then. The Presidential declaration would cover that.

Amy Sebring: You mentioned the interagency ESFs (you might elaborate on what that is), but that is under the National Response Framework. I don’t know how many ESFs we’re up to—somewhere around 16, I think.

Paul Schwartz: As far as FEMA is aware, we’re at 15. We worked extensively with some of those ESFs, for example, ESF3 (Army Corps) on the debris removal and emergency power. We worked with ESF8 (Health and Human Services) on the medical aspects, the medical needs portion. We worked with many ESFs.

Many of the ESFs are led by FEMA entities, like ESF6 (Mass Care). They are the ones, especially at the federal level, that are going to be looked to for that support for those particular categories. What we hope to do is expand to all 15 ESFs and try to capture in a very simple form (like we have in this tool) whatever the needs are for any of those categories to expand this as we move forward with this concept and program.

Amy Sebring: Did these ESFs actually use this tool? Did they provide input? Did you collect information from them and factor it in?

Paul Schwartz: Absolutely. When we were coming up with revising the questions, the question that was posed to them (Army Corps) was—what information do you need to know? When there were other questions in that category and they said they really don’t do anything with that information, it’s nice to know, but they don’t really do anything, we dropped that out.

We’re looking at, if this is a real major disaster, and there is going to be assistance that needs to be provided by the federal government, FEMA doesn’t provide in many cases—we have to look to our interagency partners. That’s why they were critical to coming up with the questions that are in that tool.

Our biggest player possibly is our own Logistics Management Division, so the questions that are captured in the tool for that category will work through them. If they don’t use the information, there’s no need for it.

Melinda Johnson: We are currently using a target capability assessment in our planning process. I would like to use the GAP analysis tool--or something like it--to better determine where our gaps are based on the TCLs. Can this tool be used for that? Or is something like that going to be developed?

Amy Sebring: If we have local participants that were not in the pilot states, who at the state level might be a resource for them, or a point of contact to find out further plans for the status of implementation?

Paul Schwartz: Whatever state you’re in, it’s the FEMA Regional Office. This is not a pilot, it’s open to whoever is looking to participate. We can support, through our regions, because we work through our regions, the local effort, state effort, whatever.

Amy Sebring: Is it typically done in a response division of a state Emergency Management office?

Paul Schwartz: It varies. Primarily, but it does vary. There is a link: [email protected] We could give her any kind of details on any of the contacts for anyone’s particular situation.

Patti Pettis: Does the grant cover public health and medical services? I realize HHS does the ESF #8 GAP, but there are no HHS grants for GAP specifically.

Paul Schwartz: As we further develop this tool, what we’re going is to have for any of these issues in the tool, a link to the grant that it would cover. We don’t have that in the tool yet. We’re working on that. What I would suggest is that they contact our grants office and they could speak specifically to what grants might cover that issue.

Amy Sebring: Could you explain more about what the plan schedule is for the months, at least the remainder of the next year, in terms of implementing state-wide, and then generally, what the plans are for future years? My understanding is they’re asking the states to do one scenario per year.

Paul Schwartz: They’re not limited, but again, we don’t want to overburden them in any way, shape, or form. We want to leave it to their discretion on how to use it and over what period of time to use it. It’s really for them. It’s to their benefit. Whatever timeframe the states want to take up, that’s fine with us. We’re hopeful that as different states and entities see a value in this, more states will want to participate.

Amy Sebring: You mentioned quite briefly in passing EMAC resources. For those who are not familiar with that acronym, it’s the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which is a mechanism for states to provide mutual aid assistance to each other. Are you working with EMAC folks directly, or trying to collect that data through the individual states?

Paul Schwartz: We’re not collecting the data. It needs to be reflected as our regions and states collect the information. That has to be factored in. It gives them a better understanding of what they have access to.

We certainly would advocate the use of the EMAC resources as part of the resources that they have access to. With EMAC they would also have to factor the fact that if the disaster is multi-state, those EMAC resources might have to spread out over several states. That needs to be factored in. That’s why the selection of a specific scenario is so critical.

Amy Sebring: Has anyone used the pandemic flu scenario yet?

Paul Schwartz: Not to my knowledge. We could if they wanted to, but to my knowledge, that has not been one of the scenarios that the states or whatever felt the need to work with this tool. The reason is that with a pandemic, it’s primarily an ESF8 thing, it’s primarily all in that category.

Amy Sebring: Have states used it already to do earthquakes?

Paul Schwartz: At this point, they’re working it. It hasn’t been used (we haven’t had to use an earthquake event). With the New Madrid, we are trying to work with those New Madrid states to use the tool to collect the information they need for their planning purpose. This key is this tool is intended to support ongoing planning processes, so the planning that is going on now, the event may not have occurred yet.

Amy Sebring: I’d like to see the day when somebody tries to use it to do a nuclear detonation scenario!

Paul Schwartz: It might be coming. Who knows?

Amy Sebring: I think that will have some very interesting results if they do it.

J.R. Jones: Are there any contingencies related to Swine Flu or other epidemic, such as training locals to give supervised shots or other supportive care?

Paul Schwartz: I’m sure that’s going on, but it’s not directly related to this effort.

Christopher Tantlinger: The disaster impact from one area may create an unforeseen need in an adjacent area. How can you use this to try to prepare and make the data relative, e.g., Capitol Region evacuation to outlying regions with a lower capability as reported initially.

Paul Schwartz: As far as the information for evacuation, if you want to know what the host state’s capabilities are, that does get factored in. That would indicate where you need other host state agreements.

Amy Sebring: Is this being done more regionally or in sub-regions, and because it does come up to the state, one would expect that those factors would be considered?

Paul Schwartz: Some of the questions in the evacuation portion of this program do deal with host state agreements. The assumption is that if you have a major disaster, it’s going to impact more than one state. If you’re going to evacuate, have a mass evacuation, as we did with Gustav last year where we evacuated from Louisiana, we went into some of the other host states. Then we had to have plans in place to get them back.

Amy Sebring: Are we modeling for a major disaster or a catastrophic disaster?

Paul Schwartz: We leave it up to the states. We leave it up to them, in working with us, to identify a scenario that stretches their resources. They could be a New Madrid state, but if they want to use this thing for a flood, or a dam break, that’s fine. Regardless of what initial scenario you use, you could always adapt it to another set of circumstances, through another model, to see if you may have enough capabilities for one set of circumstances, you wouldn’t necessarily have it for another set of circumstances.

It’s flexible enough that you can plug in any scenario. It’s not limited to catastrophic events, but certainly that is of concern to us, and that we want to be as much prepared for as possible. It wouldn’t serve any useful purpose if it was applied to something that we easily have the resources to cover—then it’s not telling us anything.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Paul for an excellent job, and we hope you enjoyed it. Please stand by just a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements.

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