New Business Continuity System Helps Repopulation After Mass Evacuation

After Hurricane Katrina and the problems associated with trying to bring the population back into the city speedily and safely, Jefferson Parish in Louisiana sought to develop a re-entry plan to accomplish just that. Called the JumpStart Jefferson Business Continuity System, businesses can register on an associated Website. The business is then placed into a three-tiered system, allowing them re-entry into the area depending on their importance in getting the general population re-acclimated into the region.

This three-tiered system is facilitated through the use of placards and corresponding identification. And while it doesn’t allow for access to the personnel residences of employees and emergency responders, it does allow for a quick way to identify business owners their employers, as well as support personnel. These individuals can then begin preparing the area for the eventual return of area residents once it has been deemed safe by authorities.

After an evacuation, the tiers are notified of permission to return through e-mails, government Web portals, and the media. Placards are issued beforehand on tamperproof paper, each with their own unique designs and large, color-coded letters. Those who have businesses in multiple areas are issued placards with an “R” after the tier number. All placards are displayed in the window of the vehicle trying to regain entry, and all personnel in the vehicle have corresponding identification.

The plan was put to the test in 2008 after the evacuation of coastal communities in Jefferson Parish in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav, according to www.emergencymgmt.com. Following the Hurricane, a call was made for the return of Tier One re-entry, which included critical businesses and functions. These individuals, who were brought back into the area using the placard system, were called to re-enter the area within 24 hours.

The system has received positive feedback, and there has even been talk of developing entry points with card readers to more effectively facilitate re-entry of key personnel, as well as to track which businesses are actually re-entering when their tier is given permission to enter.

Charleston, Ohio, is another good example of cities ramping up re-entry plans in the event of disaster. The city’s plan also provides guidance to local and state agencies during and following an event that causes a large-scale evacuation of businesses and citizens. For more information about the city’s re-entry plan, read their readiness plan here.

For more information about the JumpStart Jefferson Business Continuity System, visit: http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Re-Entry-Plans-Aid-Repopulation.html