Core Goal #10: Planning
The State has implemented a host of improvements, including reestablishing the previously defunct planning division within MEMA. A follow-up report, completed in August 2010, found that MEMA has made significant improvements to its structure and organization to better serve and prepare State agencies and local municipal government. Maryland has also adopted the Comprehensive Emergency Management Planning system to provide a framework to coordinate and better organize state emergency operations plans and various hazard specific annexes. MEMA has led new emergency-specific efforts to more pro-actively identify planning gaps and to collect and validate plans according to central principals such as continuity of operations planning (COOP) during the recent H1N1 event. Following are key projects and accomplishments:
- Rewrote, revised, and promulgated the State Emergency Operations Core Plan – the basis for emergency response and coordination between agencies at the state level. The Core Plan lays out the roles and responsibilities of the departments and agencies within the state enterprise during emergencies. The State plan was revised to address recommendations included in the Witt report.
- Created the State’s first Mass Care Shelter Plan and opened 8 mass care shelters for use in extreme emergencies. In 2007, the State had zero mass care state shelters to augment the use of local shelter sites. In preparation for the 2009 inauguration, MEMA and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) developed a State Mass Care Shelter Plan and identified a series of large capacity shelters that could be operated by the State if a large-scale evacuation was needed should local capabilities be overwhelmed. Today the State has agreements with eight state facilities to operate as a shelter site during an emergency incident or evacuation. The approximate available square footage for State shelter space is enough to accommodate short-term sheltering of 41,474 spaces, or long-term sheltering of 19,314. By the end of 2011, the State expects to have a total of 12 Mass Care State Shelters accessible in the event of an evacuation.
- Successfully evacuated and sheltered 3,000 student workers during Hurricane Irene in the first real-world test of the State’s sheltering capabilities. Each summer, thousands of international students spend the summer in Ocean City working at hotels and resorts. Since 2009, state agencies have exercised plans to evacuate this vulnerable population in the event of a hurricane, and in June 2011, multiple State agencies participated in the State’s first ever Mass Care Shelter exercise, but prior to Hurricane Irene in August 2011 neither of these plans had ever been implemented in response to a real-world incident. Before a mandatory evacuation was issued for Ocean City on Thursday, August 25, the state had implemented its plan to use MTA buses to transport approximately 3,000 students to three shelter sites in Baltimore City and County. For three nights, volunteers and state personnel fed and house these students and ensured their safety until they were transported back to Ocean City on Sunday, August 28. The previous state shelter exercise held in June 2011 tested these functions as well as the State’s ability to meet the needs of evacuees who require functional needs support services and pet sheltering.
- Developed and enhanced emergency management checklists to streamline statewide coordination during an emergency. MEMA’s checklists ensure that core functions are performed before, during, and following an emergency. They integrate statutory requirements, scientific data on natural events, behavior data such as evacuation trends and input from state emergency management partner agencies. Checklists have been developed for both “notice” (hurricanes, winter storms, national security events) and “no-notice” (terrorism, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc) emergencies. With input from the Maryland State Police, the Terrorism Checklist was updated following an incident involving two incendiary packages mailed to state agencies in January 2011. The Hurricane Checklist guided the State’s response during Hurricane Irene.
- Developed a dynamic evacuation planning tool with real-time traffic data to enhance evacuation planning around Baltimore City and the District of Columbia. The Maryland State Highway Administration, in partnership with the University of Maryland, College Park, has developed a network of traffic sensors and camera monitors that capture data on traffic flow around the National Capital Region and Baltimore City. Access to this real-time data allows SHA to make constant changes to evacuation plans for both regions. SHA and the University are also developing an evacuation modeling tool that will include models of vehicle-pedestrian conflicts, special pedestrian movement signals, and transit routing and schedules.
- Completed the State’s Feeding Plan, for providing food to people affected during an emergency, evacuation, or sheltering situation. DHR, MEMA, and other partner agencies developed the “Multi-Agency Feeding Plan” to meet the feeding needs of a population affected by a disaster within the State of Maryland. The plan is also designed to accommodate feeding an influx of out-of-state evacuees such as evacuees from the National Capital Region. A complete draft was finished in the fall of 2009 and made final in 2010.