On August 27, 2011, emergency managers in federal agencies, utility companies, military installations and state, county and municipal EOCs from Florida to Maine prepared for Hurricane Irene using WebEOC to maintain situational awareness and a common operating picture.
WebEOC in Florida
In Florida, many of the counties on the east coast monitored the progress of the hurricane on WebEOC. Fortunately for Florida, Irene tracked just east of the state, with its outer bands producing tropical storm-force winds.
During Hurricane Irene, the South Florida Water Management District used WebEOC to provide interconnectivity and information management coordination with its eight field command posts within its 16 county service area. Emergency Management Director, Doug Bass reported, “An incident was created in WebEOC to ensure all operations and planning information was available to EOC personnel and senior staff.”
WebEOC in the Carolinas
In South Carolina, every county had access to the state’s WebEOC instance. From Horry County, SC, Randall Webster, Director of Emergency Management reported, “During events like Irene, Horry County utilizes WebEOC to update over 250 users from our county and municipal government, local NGOs and public/private partners. In this case, by using WebEOC, we did not have to initiate a full EOC activation. We were able to maintain situational readiness and if conditions had changed and the EOC needed to activate, the transition would be smooth since staff was already up-to-speed on the event.”
Hurricane Irene made landfall in the U.S. over Beaufort, North Carolina. Flooding was a critical issue since the storm hit at high tide, which was three feet above normal. A mandatory evacuation order was issued for coastal areas of North Carolina. As the storm hit Carteret County, NC, Emergency Manager Jo Ann Smith reported that “Everything is going well with WebEOC at this time. You have a great product that helps our operations run so much smoother. It’s a great way for us and our local and state partners to stay connected.”
All emergency support functions were activated on 24-hour operations. There were over 1,000 significant events and 700 missions. At the height of operations on that Saturday, there were over 500 users logged into WebEOC. Previously, the state’s max was 200. The North Carolina Division of Emergency Management utilized WebEOC Professional and WebEOC Fusion systems for regional awareness. Duke Energy used WebEOC to help manage its response to power outages across the state.
WebEOC in the National Capital Region
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) employed WebEOC for tracking requests for assistance from state agencies and local jurisdictions. Sue Ann Curran, VDEM Operations Project Manager, reported that “We also used WebEOC to receive situation reports from our jurisdictions and to track shelter status. In the Commonwealth, 68 of our 142 jurisdictions submitted situation reports through WebEOC. We are currently receiving initial damage assessment reports in WebEOC from the jurisdictions that sustained damage.”
From Norfolk, VA, Program Analyst James C. Martin reported, “I’m very proud. Several people from multiple departments utilized WebEOC before, during and after the storm.” In Maryland, the state EMA used WebEOC in response to flooding and even a tornado touchdown that damaged 50 homes. In Washington, D.C, the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and these federal agencies (and others that cannot be disclosed), used WebEOC to track the storm: the Department of the Interior, Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Agriculture.
Roy Shrout, National Capital Region (NCR) WebEOC Program Manager, Deputy Coordinator, Fairfax County Emergency Management, reported that "For the Hurricane Irene activation in the National Capital Region, WebEOC was used by almost every locality for incident management. We were able to gain the regional ‘big picture' as information was entered into our shared NCR regional boards. As a region, WebEOC simplifies the way we share information, and during Hurricane Irene, it certainly worked."
WebEOC in the Northeast
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency utilized WebEOC in their response to the storm. During the activation, the agency added its 1,500th WebEOC user. Hurricane Irene moved through the rest of New England, which suffered the worst flooding in centuries. According to the East Bay Rhode Island news, “Each city and town is connected through a system known as WebEOC. The system is connected to municipalities in the state, utility comanies and the state emergency management agency to provide updates of the local situation, and if necessary, request emergency assistance, supplies or equipment.” The emergency management agencies in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all used WebEOC as their crisis information management software.