• Posted On: July 28, 2015

Put Together a Public Works Disaster Plan Before You Need It

Is your city’s public works department prepared to handle a natural disaster? In the aftermath of disaster, demands for public works services hit overdrive. Unless you’ve planned in advance for how you will manage competing demands, confused responsiveness will only compound the problem.

Fortunately, you can learn from the experience of other metropolitan areas who’ve been through it all before. Advanced planning and using the right documenting tools as you go will be two major aids toward proper disaster response management. Here are a few other tips from city managers who have walked through the experience.

1. Devise a Plan
Partner ahead of time with emergency management teams and first responders to develop a clear response plan. Your public works department will have its hands full – too full, in fact. So you need to decide in advance what it would take to get critical institutions (think hospitals and other medical care facilities) back up and running. Work from there to prioritize resources.

2. Use FEMA’s Guide
FEMA provides a National Instant Management System which is a tool for disaster response planning. A key part of response management is establishing a clearly defined chain-of-command. For most city employees, including public works employees, their day to day supervisor will still be their go-to authority in the event of disaster.

3. Communication
Imagine losing communication in the wake of a major disaster. This frequently happens following a tornado when power lines and cell towers have been knocked down. Be sure to have a back-up plan so that vital in-state and out-of-state communication can be maintained.

4. Keeping Vehicles Moving
The destruction from a natural disaster means that there could be debris scattered across important transit passages. Much of the debris could contain sharp objects like roofing nails or metal screws. Do you have enough tire repair kits to keep all of your emergency vehicles on the road in spite of this hazard? It’s a good idea to strategically locate repair stations along key routes – chosen beforehand. One city planned repairs at hospital drop-offs, for example.

5. Documentation
To get needed government clean-up dollars you have to have proper documentation in hand. It’s best if you can offer both written and photo documentation. Public works employees should have documentation on their standard checklist of duties so that meeting this requirement in an emergency situation will be a given.

At Comcate we offer Public Works software that makes documentation a snap. Because your employees will carry their software with them on a mobile device, writing reports, notices and even uploading photos to the project file can take place on-site without having to return to the office. The solution allows you to easily track all project details, access history and the time stamp and scheduling features will help you see exactly where any snags may be occurring. Call us today and see how we can be part of improving daily performance and be an important tool in the event of disaster.

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