Area Improvements in Wake of 2008 Flood Leads to Better Preparedness

In mid-June 2008, the Wisconsin area was hit with unprecedented floods, producing flash floods across the Southern Wisconsin area for several days and causing immediate evacuations, road closures, and extensive damage to area agriculture, local businesses, housing, infrastructure, and transportation. Even today, five years later, the state continues to patch up some areas in the 30 counties that applied for disaster relief. This includes home buyouts in flood-prone areas. The State has gained a better understanding of where the water goes when a flood strikes, allowing for the improvement of waterways, tunnels, and area dams, according to www.wiscnews.com.

For Dodge City, one area hard hit, the 2008 floods was a wakeup call. For emergency management officials, the flooding highlighted some critical areas needing improvement, including:

1. Centralized sign-in point for sandbagging efforts: In 2008, officials had to turn away those who showed up to help place sandbags. Establishing a central point would have helped, as volunteers could have been sent to areas that needed sandbagging.

2. Better organization before and during a crisis: The aforementioned sandbagging efforts would have been better served with better organization going into a crisis. This would have allowed Dodge City officials to have a better grasp of the resources available to them, allowing them to allocate those resources to where they could have the most impact once flooding hit.

3. Establish an operations center: By establishing an operations center, officials can better control recovery efforts. All communication and planning would have to go through one central authority, eliminating wasted effort through miscommunication between agencies.

4. Better radio communications via radio: Part of a communication plan involves keeping in communication with all pertinent community leaders and department heads. Using radio allows for communicating outside the normal avenues of landlines and cell phones, both areas that can suffer a loss when infrastructure is damaged.

5. Remain active in the community: By reaching out to the community, local officials can keep the community involved in and knowledgeable about disaster planning efforts, as well as the part that they play in any plan.

6. Stage materials before storms and flooding hit: Another area of improvement includes staging needed supplies, such as generators, food, water, and medical supplies before a storm hits. Using data from past floods, emergency managers can have those supplies ready in areas they will most likely be needed most.

 

For more information about lessons learned from the Wisconsin flooding, visit: http://www.wiscnews.com/bdc/news/local/article_8685f4b4-d252-11e2-9bd0-0019bb2963f4.html