Planning and Response to Superstorm Sandy
Superstorm Sandy Spurs CHHS to Support Maryland Planning and Response Efforts
In late October 2012, Superstorm Sandy churned up the Eastern Seaboard with Category 2 force strength and a span of more than 1,000 miles, forcing evacuations prior to its approach and leaving widespread devastation in its wake. While Maryland did not receive the direct hit as many feared early in the storm’s development, the planning and response efforts still required considerable effort and coordination. CHHS supported Superstorm Sandy response efforts at all levels of Maryland government and worked to ensure that Maryland’s residents were well protected. Below are the jurisdictions and agencies CHHS supported:
Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
Three CHHS staffers were integral to Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) activation, which lasted from October 26 until November 3, 2012. Policy Analyst Blake Carroll and Law & Policy Analyst Dan Goodman were each involved in pre-landfall operational planning in order to organize MEMA’s response. During the pre-landfall planning, Mr. Carroll and Mr. Goodman developed Essential Elements of Information (EEI’s) that were reported on throughout the incident by the Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) and incorporated into situation reports. As Situation Unit Leaders, both staffers helped develop executive level briefings that provided the Maryland Senior Policy Group (SPG) with accurate information to coordinate resources across the state.
Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Faul acted as the Health and Human Services Branch Director within the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC) throughout the entirety of the SEOC’s activation. In her role, Ms. Faul led the Vulnerable Population Task Force, which worked with nursing homes, senior living centers, foster homes, and other vulnerable groups to ensure that service restoration times were communicated and that identified needs due to the power outages (generators, blankets, meals, evacuation assistance, etc.) were met as quickly as possible.
Law & Policy Analyst Gregory Sunshine worked in the Baltimore City Health Department’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) coordinating nurse staffing for emergency shelters. Mr. Sunshine helped coordinate with city nurse supervisors as well as the nurses themselves, preparing shelter supply bags, and providing logistical support for the nurses once they were deployed in the field.
The City of Annapolis
Senior Law & Policy Analyst Karla Schaffer supported the City of Annapolis’ EOC as it increased its activation level to Level 2 on October 25th in preparation for Superstorm Sandy. Mayor Joshua Cohen declared a local State of Emergency on Friday, October 26th. By Sunday at noon, the EOC was fully activated.
While the City of Annapolis was fortunate and sustained only moderate storm-related damage, Ms. Schaffer helped support a number of response efforts. At the peak of the incident, Annapolis experienced between 2600-2800 power outages, and responded to a total of 81 critical but non-emergency calls through its Non-Emergency Call Center.
The Office of Emergency Preparedness and Risk Management (EPARM) sent out five CodeRED community notifications to the public and provided transportation for residents to the shelter. At its peak, Annapolis High School sheltered a total of 61 people: 47 adults, 16 children, 5 dogs and 4 cats. The City of Annapolis’ extensive planning enabled it to successfully respond to Sandy’s impacts.
When the Howard County EOC was activated Saturday, October 24, CHHS Senior Law & Policy Analyst Angelique So was there providing support. Ms. So helped facilitate meetings for the Planning Cell, which set objectives for the responders’ working period. She also assisted in preparing regular situation reports that were submitted to MEMA, participated in situational awareness conference calls, and provided additional assistance as needs arose within the EOC. Howard County’s EOC was activated for a week to respond to and mitigate Superstorm Sandy’s impacts on the county.
CHHS’ Public Health Program Manager Earl Stoddard and Policy Analyst Mehrab Karim worked in support of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Group (EMG) in the lead-up to Superstorm Sandy and the EOC upon its activation on Sunday, October 28. While Montgomery County avoided some of the storm’s worst effects, the county still faced a number of unique situations. Sandy made landfall a few days prior to the local Board of Elections’ early voting, which was scheduled to take place in a number of county facilities.
In addition to providing support to the local Board of Elections, Mr. Stoddard and Ms. Karim also helped support the county’s multi-site human and pet sheltering operation, as well as the myriad policy and messaging challenges related to the objective of keeping non-essential people off roadways while encouraging essential staff to report as necessary.
Overall, CHHS provided diverse and important support to planning efforts and emergency operations throughout the State of Maryland. Support for such events has become an increasingly critical function of CHHS and will remain so as our partners respond to an increasingly wide array of incidents and events.