The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30 with the peak period from early August through the end of October. The month of September tends to produce the most hurricanes but that does not stop storms from coming at different times. As if to prove our point, Hermine came knocking ate the very beginning September while Matthew closed out the month. As with any hurricane, preparation is critical. Hurricane Alex threatened Florida in January 2016 and Tropical Storm Colin got the 2016 season underway quickly in early June. Having a plan in place for your family and at work is critical. On average 1.75 hurricanes hit the east coast each Hurricane Season. Of those, 40% of those hit Florida. Throw those numbers out of the window as it only takes 1 to have a bad season!
Life at the Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC) requires you to have a plan in place at home to make sure you can perform your duties at work without having to worry (as much). I urge all of you to have a plan. If you do not have one yet, please visit Get a Plan! and make sure you, your family and home are as safe as possible. Don’t forget your pets! Everyone knows how much I love animals. They need you to have a plan! Don’t let Colin sneak up on you and catch you off guard. Things to know for your family emergency plan include sharing/updating contact information, knowing evacuation routes, having a family meeting spot, hotel options, water, a packed supply kit and a checklist of what needs to be done before, during and after the storm. Before anything else, preparation is the key to success (credit Alexander Graham Bell).
The RTMC is no different. A ton of preparation takes place prior to Hurricane Season every year. Our first step is to update a ton of documentation. This starts with our Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). The DRP delineates our policies and procedures for the Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC) Disaster Recovery, as well as our process-level plans for recovering critical technology platforms and data. Our mission is to ensure information system uptime, data integrity and availability, and business continuity. Making sure all staff members are aware of this plan and their role is key. Ensuring operational policies are followed, contingency arrangements are cost-effective and our back-up location is ready requires a great deal of leg-work.
Our District 2 Hurricane Response Plan breaks down requirements by Pre-Hurricane Season, Pre-Storm, Storm Imminent and Post-Storm activities. We are currently wrapping up our Pre-Season activities which consist of getting Operator availability, updating emergency contact information and checking to see that air mattresses, flashlights and other supplies are still functioning, while also checking and re-stocking non-perishable food items and looking at operational changes from last season. Most importantly, lessons learned help us revise our Hurricane Season Response Plan which allows for continued improvements and streamlined activities.
Pre-Storm activities include everything from checking devices to staffing to stocking supplies and making sure all contact information is prepared. Running through equipment to make sure as much of the ITS devices are operational is critical to monitoring conditions and expediting response. Disseminating information to partnering agencies, the media and the public will help evacuations and issues on the roadway go as smoothly as possible. Coordination and communication channels are opened and the updates begin. As the storm comes through issues are prioritized so when the roadway is passable crews can head to the most critical issues first. When the storm has passed, complete checks of equipment, roadway conditions and analysis begins. Recon teams are sent out in pairs to report back. Our mission is to make sure the roadway is safe as quick as possible so people can get home and return to their lives.
Though Accuweather and Colorado State University both predict a slightly less active 2017 season that does not mean you should take it lightly. Be prepared. Get a Plan! The RTMC has one, you should too. Whether you are avoiding storm traffic or just the day to day grind don’t forget to use 511. 511: Connect. Know. Go.