Accomplishments for 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 Maryland Emergency Preparedness Program (MEPP), which provides a framework for coordinating and organizing State emergency response plans and various other emergency plans into a continuous update cycle known as the Maryland Preparedness System (MPS). MEMA has led new emergency-specific efforts to more pro-actively identify planning gaps and to collect and validate plans according to central principles such as continuity of operations planning during the recent H1N1 event. Following are key projects and accomplishments:
- Maryland adopted the Maryland Emergency Preparedness Program (MEPP) creating the first ever statewide system and methodology for emergency preparedness and planning.Encompassing each of the emergency mission areas (prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recover), the MEPP provides a framework for coordinating and organizing State emergency response plans and various other emergency plans into a continuous revision cycle known as the Maryland Preparedness System (MPS) by aligning risk assessments, federal grant funding, and the acquisition of resources.
The Maryland Preparedness System (MPS)
- Created Maryland’s first Mass Care Shelter Plan and developed the capacity to activate up to 11 mass care shelters for use in emergencies. In 2007, the State had no state shelter mass care plans, agreements, or supplies to which could augment the use of local shelter sites if a large-scale evacuation was need and local capacities were overwhelmed. 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 and local capabilities became overwhelmed. Today the State has agreements with eleven facilities that will operate as state shelter sites during an emergency incident or evacuation.
- Successfully evacuated and sheltered approximately 2,200 international student workers during Hurricane Irene in the first real-world test of the State’s sheltering capabilities. Each summer, thousands of international students spend their time on the eastern shore working at hotels and resorts. In August of 2011, the State activated an evacuation of these students by deploying MTA buses even before a mandatory evacuation was issued for Ocean City. For three nights, several thousand of the students were fed and housed by volunteers and State personnel in Baltimore County and Baltimore City until they were transported back to Ocean City after the hurricane had passed. This process would not have been successful if it hadn’t been for the identification of this issue months prior to the hurricane resulting in extensive planning and exercising as well as educating the students.
- Developed an online electronic library of State and local emergency plans and procedures supporting 26 out of 26 jurisdictions in Maryland and made them available remotely for authorized individuals, thus streamlining and enhancing the information sharing process.MEMA’s eLibrary now includes various State and local emergency plans such as Hazard Mitigation Plans, Public School Emergency Plans, and Emergency Support Function (ESF) plans, all of which support State and local preparedness and response.
- 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 (NCR) 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.
- Ordered all executive departments and agencies to update and revise their Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). COOP ensures that core operations of any critical agencies and facilities can continue in the event of power outages, failures of communications systems, or other any other essential services. Ongoing continuity planning ensures that the critical services such as government have the ability to perform essential functions even when operating under unusual conditions.