On Thursday, Nov. 2, Lewes Projects Coordinator/Grants Administrator Nelson Wiles shared some helpful advice as he presented Ocean View Town Council with an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The plan was officially considered for the Town of Ocean View by the Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the Town Council Meeting.
Wiles, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) employee of 15 years, stated that the plan, among other purposes, primarily provides a basis for coordinated response, establishes a state of readiness, and distributes command and control procedures in the event of a natural disaster.
Thus, the EOP provides a basis for preparation and execution of emergency operations before, during and after a natural disaster occurs.
“FEMA has come out with a list of 21 natural disasters,” stated Wiles. “Out of those 21, the town is asked to do an assessment and analysis of which ones you and your community might be subjected to, and prioritize those so that you spend your energy, resources and funds towards protection and prevention of those.”
Similarly with the entire Delaware coastline, Ocean View is primarily subject to nor’easters and hurricanes, noted Wiles, with wind and flooding resulting as well.
“Within this plan, there’s an organizational structure for town emergency operation centers. People have been designated to serve specific positions. [These positions] are lined with the Incident Command System (ICS), which has been an age-old proven system of command and control, dating back to the ’70s.”
The ICS is a way of managing emergency situations through systematic approach, based on equipment and personnel available. “You do not have to activate the entire ICS at one time,” said Wiles. “You bring in the people you need based on what you feel needs to be accomplished and what the threat level is. From there, you bring in more people as you need.”
“After the events of 9/11, the president ordered that government entities across the country, including local, state and federal governments, to draft in a new National Incident Management System (NIMS), which incorporates the whole concept of ICS into it,” Wiles noted. Most local municipalities have already adopted NIMS and are receiving related training for staff, officials and police.
In addition, the EOP includes coordination required when requesting for assistance. “Obviously, if have a major Category 3 or 4 hurricane here, the resources in all the towns around here will become immediately overwhelmed,” said Wiles. “You will have to request assistance. There are all kinds of assistance available, from the county, to the state, and up to DEMA and FEMA. This document clarifies how the assistance works together.”
“The state, DEMA and FEMA just want to be sure that the town is moving forward and getting the plan together.”
The plan itself is composed of three principal components: the plan itself, appendices (both general and hazard-specific) and annexes, which in Ocean View include the town’s emergency evacuation plans.
“This plan is not set in concrete,” said Wiles. “It’s like any plan; it’s a living, breathing document. One of the required elements it needs is review, and it will need to be updated, if nothing else, annually.”
A copy of the Town of Ocean View Emergency Operations Plan is available for review at the Town Hall, located at 32 West Avenue, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. In addition, citizens of Ocean View and surrounding areas are encouraged to pick up copies of Town of Ocean View’s booklet, “Disaster Preparedness Starts at Home.” The booklet instructs citizens of the area what they can do, personally, in and around their residences, in preparation for and in response to natural disasters.