There in the worst of disaster, destruction
FEMA Region I, other groups support New England in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts
FEMA photo Emergency personnel representing agencies across New England view a briefing at the Maynard Regional Response Coordination Center. Purchase photo reprints »
MAYNARD — There is a group of people from across the country that congregate only at the worst of times.
The group is made up of federal, state and local emergency managers, representatives of key departments headquartered in Washington and those who work for volunteer agencies like the Red Cross.
While New Englanders were glued to their TV sets last week, watching as Hurricane Sandy threatened the East Coast, there was another gathering of one such group when a special facility in Maynard — the Regional Response Coordination Center — was opened and became a 24-hour operation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region I, headquartered in Boston, serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont by partnering with the emergency management agencies of these New England states and with the region’s federally recognized tribal nations.
Preparing for, responding to and recovering from a disaster is an intensely coordinated effort, and — after President Obama’s federal disaster declarations for Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island — the deployment of resources to states affected by Hurricane Sandy has been an ongoing joint operation.
Region I not only partners with state emergency departments, but with numerous federal and non-governmental agencies that comprise emergency support functions including: the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Agriculture; the U.S. Forest Service; Coast Guard; Army Corps of Engineers; the Civil Air Patrol; the American Red Cross; the National Weather Service; Environmental Protection Agency; and Urban Search & Rescue teams. All of these groups support any New England state that may be in need of federal assistance.
“Our role is to ensure the safety of everyone impacted by Hurricane Sandy and to help the whole community recover. Local, state and federal governments are working together to provide accurate information and efficient mobilization of resources,” said Paul Ford, acting administrator of FEMA Region I.
On the local level, community emergency response teams used local centers to monitor the storm, and are ready to provide similar coordination in their areas, should it become necessary.
MEMA, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, has representatives at the center in Maynard, and handles communication and coordination with purely state agencies when necessary.
FEMA activated 14 emergency support functions at the Maynard Center on Oct. 28, and has been staffing it 24-7 ever since.
The 14 functions coordinated from the center include:
◆ Public works and engineering;
◆ Emergency management;
◆ Mass care, emergency assistance, housing, and human services;
◆ Public health and medical services;
◆ Search and rescue;
◆ Oil and hazardous materials response;
◆ Agriculture and natural resources;
◆ Public safety and security;
◆ Long-term community recovery;
◆ External affairs (getting the word out to the community, local governments and Congressional staffs).
Since the opening of the center, more than 80 FEMA Community Relations personnel have been deployed to the region to conduct the Assess, Inform, Report mission. Daily conference calls have been held with the New England Congressional delegation and the Region’s Tribal Liaison has contacted affected Tribal Nations.
Information about what to do before, during and after a disaster can be found at www.ready.gov and www.listo.gov (in Spanish). The FEMA mobile site (http://m.fema.gov), Smartphone app (www.fema.gov/smartphone-app) and text messages (www.fema.gov/text-messages) also provide regular updates. Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.