Since those risks can't be eliminated immediately (though mitigation work is underway), local leaders are working on a plan in case the worst comes to pass. They met yesterday to go over strategies for coordinating emergency services in a major flood situation.
Local emergency responders preparing for flood potential
Emergency responders from El Paso County, City of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and other federal, state, regional, local and non-governmental organizations and agencies came together Thursday to participate in a one-day facilitated, discussion-based exercise to prepare for floods following the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer.
The Waldo Canyon Fire has significantly changed the landscape, presenting risk of debris flow and flash flooding. Hillsides once protected by vegetation have been compromised and precipitation could have significant impacts on the landscape, causing concerns of flooding in the burned area and areas downstream.
The exercise was based on a fictional yet realistic scenario that gave area agencies the ability to exchange ideas, coordinate processes and procedures, as well as share lessons learned prior to a real flood.
“We are all in this together. While each jurisdiction has responsibilities for their residents we must be able to act as one to protect the lives of residents and quickly recover. This exercise is critical in facilitating that goal. We would like to thank Booz Allen Hamilton for planning and conducting this exercise pro bono to all jurisdictions,” said El Paso County Emergency Manager Patty Baxter.
“These types of exercises are essential to help us prepare for a flood or other disaster,” says City of Colorado Springs Director of Emergency Management, Bret Waters. “The opportunity to interact with El Paso County and other area agencies in this setting helps us improve our emergency response when an incident occurs.”
The exercise was intended to address three main focus areas: multi-jurisdictional communication, public interaction and emergency information, and resource management.
The exercise was planned and executed by management consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton as part of its ongoing commitment to create a lasting and sustainable impact in the community it serves.
In addition to the El Paso County, City of Colorado Springs, and Manitou Springs, participants included:
El Paso County Department of Health
Town of Green Mountain Falls
Crystal Park Volunteer Fire Department and neighborhood representatives
Pikes Peak American Red Cross
Colorado Department of Transportation
NORAD and Northcom
American Medical Response
FEMA Region VIII
Colorado Office of Emergency Management
National Weather Service
Colorado Springs Utilities
Colorado National Guard
Memorial Health System
Penrose-St. Francis Hospital and Health System
Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County
Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control
South Central All-Hazards Region
Pikes Peak Regional Medical Response System