Sunday, October 14, 2012
I had the pleasure of attending the COAD 2012 summit on disaster preparedness in Pewaukee this past Friday. It was an all day event that hosted some great speakers from Wisconsin and a keynote speaker from Alabama. The speaker from Alabama spoke about a massive outbreak of tornadoes that stretched across the state that ranged from F3 to F5 events. The storms that broke out April 27, 2011 were the strongest in Alabama's history. Julie, Alabama's State Emergency Management Program Manager, was sharing her experience organizing the incredible influx of emergency assistance that flooded the state after the event. Many were out of power for up to ten days and 10,000 people were living in shelters. Cell phone towers were leveled making cell phone calls impossible. A nuclear power plant needed to be manually shut down because power lines leaving the plant had been wiped out by the storm and the power had no where to go. There were 258 deaths in total.
The presentation was very appropriate for our state because as the weather patterns shift and weather events become more powerful, the same thing could happen in Wisconsin. The lessons they learned during that event were passed on during this presentation. In many cases it was communities taking care of themselves because emergency officials didn't have immediate access to them or they were too overwhelmed to get to everyone in a timely manner. That was a great intro to the next presentation I went to which was "Creating Resilient Communities."