Facility Emergency Response Plans & Tips from Mona Curry, FEMA

Facility Emergency Response Plans & Tips from Mona Curry, FEMA

In September 2022 alone, there were eight FEMA Disaster Declarations, including flooding and mudslides in Virginia, Hurricane Ian, Tropical Storm Fiona, the Milo McIver fire in Oregon and the California Mosquito Fire. We talked to FEMA’s Mona Curry who offered these valuable facility emergency preparedness tips and suggestions.

ARC Facilities: What are the 10 most important things for facility managers to do once the hurricane or other disaster subsides?

Mona: This is disaster specific. If your facility is on the west coast, then you will retrofit or build a building with base isolators in mind.  Buildings on the east coast will be worried about flooding, etc. Inspect your facility. Implement existing plans to continue with business continuity including checking in on all employees. Make sure employees know what is expected of them to keep businesses up and running. Allow employees re-entry into their workspaces or work from home. Conduct an after-action review of how the facility fared and what you can do better before the next disaster.

ARC Facilities: How would you compare/contrast hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes in terms of facility recovery timelines?

Mona: Businesses and facilities should all have hazard plans with annexes for all applicable disaster types depending on the disaster you face in your region. Recovery timelines are based on how prepared you are for each disaster.

ARC Facilities: How important are relationships with first responders, general contractors, insurance companies, and utilities for facility teams?

Mona: You never want to be in the position of having to make relationships during or post disaster.  This will just drag out your recovery.  On a scale of 1-10, pre-disaster relationships are a 10!

ARC Facilities: Who else should facility teams contact to help rebuild and recover from disasters?

Mona: Your own staff and employees.  If they are not directly impacted themselves then they are your greatest resource, but only if they have been trained prior to the disaster.  

ARC Facilities: What are some mistakes facility teams commonly make when working on recovering and rebuilding after disasters?

Mona: Not training their own staff properly.  This leaves too many gaps in response and recovery capabilities that will just cost you time and money.  Also, not planning for long term recovery.  What can you do better in preparation for the next disaster?  It’s very easy to plan for short term recovery but long term must be a serious part of your process.

ARC Facilities: Compare/contrast facility team disaster recovery strategies and emergency response plans in different industries -- healthcare, education, manufacturing, sports stadiums?

Mona: Each of those sectors have different missions.  Some will rely on simply getting people to a safe space immediately and others will need safe spaces ready to respond with emergency equipment.  But all need plans for business continuity and immediate disaster response

ARC Facilities: What can facility teams learn from each other?

Mona: Who has responsibility for what response duties?  If one group thinks that another is responsible for a certain action and that group thinks that the other group has that covered then you have real problems.  The best way to avoid this is to conduct all emergency planning with all groups and share information.  Avoid silos and planning in vacuums.

ARC Facilities: What should a facility disaster recovery timeline include?

Mona: That depends on what you have determined in your business continuity planning.  Businesses and facilities must go through evaluations to figure this out based on their facility resources, staffing resources and their goals after a big disaster. Will they plan to only output at 50% for the first few months or do they need to maintain 100% immediately? 

ARC Facilities: What are the most important tools in a facility team’s toolbox for disaster recovery repairs and maintenance?

Mona: Number one is trained staff who have demonstrated their actual abilities through facility exercises that showed they understood their responsibilities. Number two is facilities that have taken steps to add resiliency.

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