The state of Virginia can face the danger of catastrophes and calamities as a result of nature or human activities. According to “Virginia Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 1993”, the state government, counties and cities should come up with up to date Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) specific to each disaster. Since the law is applicable to all counties within the state, this paper intends to discuss the disaster mitigation and response plan of Amelia County. Discussion According to Amelia County, Virginia Emergency Operations Plan of 2007, the aim of EOP is to develop strategies that can be employed by the county incase of tragedies.
It gives the lawful establishments for such undertakings and allocates duties to all the stakeholders involved in disaster management within County. The functions allocated to the stakeholders are additions to their ordinary activities but use resources usually available to them (Vannoorbeeck, 2005). Further, he says that the Emergency Operations Plan aims to mitigate natural or artificial disasters so as to safeguard the citizens, belongings and the environment. The emergency cases may range from terrorist attack to wildfires which affect individuals living in remote areas.
According to Amelia County Department of Emergency Management (2007), the County’s EOP is sectioned into three parts. The basic plan delineates universal emergency operations, responsibilities and authorities of the County. The “Functional Annexes” constitutes exact responsibilities for a particular disaster support function. The “Hazard- Specific Appendices” outlines particular disaster plans for specified tragedies that may arise. Since the county is susceptible to various disasters, it is assumed that tragedies can arise at any time and cause damage to life and property. The misfortunes may affect a specific area or the entire county.
Depending on the magnitude, the State or County EOP is employed in response (Amelia County, Virginia Emergency Operations Plan, 2007). But, in any case, the state government should always ensure the welfare of its citizens before, during and after the disaster. The County’s disaster management team is headed by a director while the coordinator of the team is required to oversee the operations plan for the county (University of Virginia, 2010). The local disaster services organizations tackle the daily misfortunes in the county. In handling disasters, the local agencies are supported by state teams as well as other volunteers.
According to Amelia County, Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (2007), each agency keeps its autonomy in communication but still synchronizing through Emergency Operations Center. The EOP describes actions, duties and lines of power to be observed in the local emergencies. These actions can be undertaken to help reaction to minor disasters within the county. Incase of a big disaster, the county’s board of supervisors “declares a local state of emergency”. It is mandatory that the county be ready to tackle any emergency in its area of jurisdiction. Local agencies should react first before requesting for assistance from the state.
According to the “Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 1973”, the disaster response measure should be confined within the accessible agencies of the county government. The duties of these agencies during disaster periods are highly related to their normal functions and some responsibilities may be suspended if they are not related to the tragedy at hand. To ensure that important positions are always occupied, the agencies are authorized to craft their stability plan concerning succession of authority (Amelia County, Virginia Emergency Operations Plan, 2007).
In addition the leader of disaster agencies within the county is required to craft strategies, standing orders, working guidelines, workers list and materials list for successful functionality of the plan. Further, the agency leader is accountable for expenditure during the disaster period. He should keep detailed information concerning the cash flow for documentation of county finances and as a proof of evidence should the federal government or the state wish to refund (Vannoorbeeck, 2005). According to Amelia County, Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (2007), “the director of disaster management is a member of the board of supervisors”.
The director has power, backed by law, to announce a local state of emergency. However, this is applicable only when a collaboration of county agencies and departments is needed to control the situation. It may also be necessitated by high cost of tackling the disaster as well as when the wellbeing of the citizens and property is at jeopardy. In absentia of the director, all his responsibilities are undertaken by the “coordinator of emergency management” who is recognized by the board of directors (Amelia County Department of Emergency Management, 2007).
If both of them are not present, their responsibilities fall at the hands of the deputy coordinator who is as well recognized by the board of supervisors. The functions involved here are drawing appropriate disaster response strategies, recovery measures and alleviation plans. The overall disaster management director is required to give leadership to the local government in times of disaster. It is also his duty to acknowledge the citizens during disastrous occasions. The coordinator of Disaster Management oversees the functionality of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
The Amelia’s county Emergency Operations Center is found at “Sheriff’s office, located in the basement of the Amelia county Courthouse on Virginia Street, Amelia, VA”. In addition, the coordinator maintains the Emergency Operations Plan. The plan is subject to continued renewal and re-adoption after every five years. In addition, the coordinator synchronizes Amelia Emergency Operations Plan with other stakeholders as well as common wealth of Virginia and Federal government (Amelia County Department of Emergency Management, 2007). Once the state of emergency is declared, Amelia county EOP acts in collaboration with Amelia county EOC.
It is a must that the Emergency Management Coordinator informs the Virginia Emergency Operations Centre about the declaration. The coordinator decides on the amount of personnel needed at EOC. The function of EOC is to give coordination between the participating departments and agencies. The coordination work involves communication, management, transport and scheduling of the county. Then, the director of emergency management decides on whether to carryout massive evacuations or to employ other protective measures. The EOC office gives security for locations affected.
The Virginia EOC requires the coordinator to submit information regarding the daily conditions, damages and the state of affairs after the response (Vannoorbeeck, 2005). Further, the coordinator directs other emergency response agencies from outside of the county. The EOP is legal for implementation when the state of emergency is declared by the governor of Virginia. According to Amelia County Department of Emergency Management, (2007), the Amelia local authority has three organizations responsible for a quick rejoinder in a normal disaster situation. The county’s EOC office concern with public service functions.
The “volunteer fire department” has a responsibility of protecting citizens against fire disaster. Finally, the county’s emergency squad provides healthcare to the casualties. These organizations may also help in tackling large scale disasters. Each organization has its specific duties as assigned by the county. Conclusion Effective emergency response requires a well articulated plan. It is important to assess the possible disasters and come up with strategies of controlling them. During response, a careful coordination between the involved stakeholders is required so as to effectively control the situation.
As per the Amelia EOP, the director and the emergency coordinator are critical to success of the plan. Their responsibilities include communication and directing the county in times of emergency, financial planning and linking all the participating emergency response agencies. References Amelia County, Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (2007). Basic Plan, retrieved on August 5th 2010 from; http://www. hamnerlibrary. org/county_docs/emergency_plan/EOP-AnnexE. doc Amelia County Department of Emergency Management (2007).
Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Improved New Regional Hazmat Team can respond more quickly, retrieved on August 5th 2010 from; http://www. vdem. state. va. us/newsroom/releases/2010/misc/new_reg_Hazmat_tea m. cfm University of Virginia (2008). Critical Incident Management Plan, retrieved on August 5th 2010 from; http://www. virginia. edu/emergency/plan. html Vannoorbeeck P. (2005). Amelia County, Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan 2005, retrieved on August 5th 2010 from; http://www. vdem. state. va. us/library/plans/mitigateplans/AmeliaCounty/AmeliaHa zardMitigationPlan. pdf
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