As June 1 approaches, the start of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season also draws near. While it is unknown if the 2019 season will be active or not, it only takes one storm to wreak havoc on a community.
Here in Louisiana, we have seen our share of storms over the years. During my career, I have worked many storms, starting with Hurricane Andrew in 1992. According to the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, a tropical system makes landfall along the coastline of Louisiana about twice every three years and a hurricane makes landfall once every 2.8 years.
The 2017 hurricane season produced Harvey, Irma and Maria, which at the time were listed as three of the five costliest hurricanes in American history. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 2018 season produced 15 named storms, 8 of which became hurricanes. Of the 8 hurricanes, 2 of those – Florence and Michael – reached major status. Hurricane Michael was recently upgraded to a Category 5 after the post-storm review conducted by NOAA scientists.
When a community is faced with one of these major storms, it takes a lot of personnel to mitigate the incident as local resources become overwhelmed and mutual aid comes into play. In Louisiana, we have requested and received resources through some form of aid from all over the United States for these events.
Over the last few years, Louisiana has had the opportunity to return the favor, helping other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Thousands of responders have deployed to disasters through some form of mutual aid over the years.
Now the IAFC is working with Juvare’s WebEOC and ESRI to take mutual aid to the next level, creating a system where all users can access cutting-edge technology. According to the IAFC, they will be able to request, geospatially locate and strategically deploy response resources through the National Mutual Aid System (NMAS), the next evolution of the Intrastate Mutual Aid System (IMAS 2006-2011) and Mutual Aid Net (2012 to date).
As we continue to see events where large numbers of responders are needed from multiple states, we will also continue to need mutual aid. NMAS will allow users the ability to look for resources locally, regionally and nationally.
Let’s hope this season will be quiet and nobody has to call for outside resources, but we need to be prepared. Check out NMAS and see if it can help you to be ready.