Dealing with disaster



Chatted with Tony Dorsey (at right) – manager of media relations for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) – the other day about what state agencies responsible for getting transportation systems re-opened following all sorts of natural disasters are learning from the recent pummeling Hurricane Sandy dished out along the U.S. east coast.

The interesting thing is that many of AASHTO’s members now dealing with the aftereffects of the “Frankenstorm” created when Sandy merged with two other weather systems actually deployed a variety of tactics developed from previous storm experience – particularly Hurricane Irene, which delivered a vicious hit to Vermont back in August 2011.

AASHTO put together an instructive video earlier this year to encapsulate some of the lessons learned from Vermont’s Irene experience as well.

Dorsey told me one of the key tactics State DOT agencies are now using when it comes to “disaster management” is beefing up both internal and external communication efforts – before, during, and after such storms hit.

“One of the things we’ve learned from previous disasters like Irene is how important it is not just to communicate with the public more frequently before a storm hits, but also how to cooperate better with agencies and companies that will also be involved in restoration efforts,” he explained.

That means trying to craft better coordination between state DOT teams and utility companies, highway tolling authorities, police and fire departments – any group that will be deployed as part of statewide emergency response efforts.

“And ‘communication’ also involves the use of social media and other new ‘information conduits’ that everyone uses, so we can be on the same page with both citizens and other groups charged with disaster response,” Dorsey said.

[As an example, check out the video Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) made to highlight its new 511 service for disseminating traffic information.]

Dorsey also noted that use of an “incident command” structure is vital not only to speed up and precisely target disaster response efforts, but also help maximize disaster response “efficiencies” between government and private entities.

“That command structure also helps as state DOT agencies are now more frequently working across jurisdictions to support each other’s recovery efforts from such large-scale storms,” he pointed out. “The more we learn from these disasters just reinforces the need for DOT offices to cooperate more closely.”

It also reinforces the need for DOT agencies to not just develop disaster response plans but practice them frequently as well. “That means conducting everything from table-top exercises to full-scale drills,” Dorsey said, for when a disaster on the scale of a “Frankenstorm” strikes, there’s simply no time to ask questions or work out any “bugs” in the plan.

Finally, as disaster “recovery” shifts to “rebuilding” efforts, state DOT offices are now more than ever recalculating what’s need for bridges and roads to better withstand the violent forces of nature.

“We can’t just rebuild a highway bridge the same way as before, because that design didn’t survive the storm,” Dorsey explained. “We need to make sure our roadway infrastructure is ready to handle other storms/events of similar magnitude.”

[Along slightly different lines, and just for fun, check out this humorous video VDOT put together to explain how potholes contribute to roadway damage.]

Finally, Dorsey drew my attention back to what AASHTO believes is a major issue that will impact disaster response efforts: the inability to gain public support for more transportation infrastructure funding.

While it’s a controversial topic in many corners, Dorsey told me that – in AASHTO’s view – this issue connects back to the need for better, more frequent, and broader methods of communication with the general public on the part of state DOT officials.

“Despite years spent explaining their funding challenges, transportation agencies have had a difficult time gaining broad public support for increased transportation investment,” noted Mara Campbell, customer services director of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Campbell added that a new report by AASHTO – dubbed Communicating Transportation Funding Issues – offers transportation agencies what’s being called “practical approaches” to more effectively make the case for transportation investments to the general public and key decision makers.

“Better appreciation for the connection between effective communications and public awareness and acceptance of transportation investment," Campbell pointed out. "The transportation funding gap is growing and we believe that, if the public knows what's at stake, they'll support greater transportation investment."

However, is this funding issue the other side of the coin (as it were) where disaster planning is concerned? That remains open to debate I think. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind as the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. continue to dig out from the devastation wreaked by the “Frankenstorm.” 

Discuss this Blog Entry 28

on Nov 1, 2012

This terrrible storm shows the need for forecasters to get it right, not just this time (which they did) but every time. If they are unsure, say so, so people don't waste their time & much needed resources. Here locally we have weathermen that see a tornado in every cloud or every time it rains. A lot of people are going to get hurt if one hits because "it's always a false alarm".

on May 29, 2013

This is true that the forecasters need to give the right information but at the same time storms can appear in a very short amount of time. False alarms happen because these weathermen feel the pressure of letting people know what is possible and what to do.
student storage

on Aug 30, 2013

I think this is a real great article. Buy Soundcloud Followers and marketplace

on Dec 26, 2012

Natural disasters can strike at any time. The first step in dealing with such events is to be prepared.portail motorisé Preparation includes gathering supplies and creating a communication plan. The next step is acting on the pose de garde corps plan when disasters unfold. Follow local authorities' instructions to evacuate if necessary. Finally, when returning home after the disaster, keep issues of safety paramount as you move forward to rebuild.

on Jan 5, 2013

Any disaster is inevitable but this post is really useful for everyone. It is actually very detailed wherein we can get ideas in dealing disasters. I am going to share this to my colleagues in caterpillar ecuador for them to be aware too. We are all workers for motor caterpillar.

on Jan 10, 2013

It's good to know that there are still people who can help you after such a terrible disaster.

Cleaners London

on Mar 14, 2013

before disaster strike, first note that the American Glovebox Society (AGS) is a non-profit formed in 1986 for the purpose of advancing the science and containment technology.

on Jan 13, 2013

Meg Christie Community and Public Health The 4 days notice was great! It made me get cracking and send in a personal sub asap. Thanks, Dirk for making it easy. While a long lead in suits some people, for others it makes us procrastinate. I'm doing one on behalf of Living Streets on from the work email today. Junk Cars San Francisco

on Mar 27, 2013

Meg Christie Community and Public Health The 4 days notice was great! It made me get cracking and send in a personal sub asap. Thanks, Dirk for making it easy. While a long lead in suits some people, for others it makes us procrastinate. I'm doing one on behalf of Living Streets on from the work email today. water damage Chicago

on Apr 5, 2013

This is something that can happen anywhere and many preparations need get done in order to prevent. A natural disaster is unavoidable.
heated storage edmonton

on Apr 17, 2013

Employment is the major issue of the world Candor Manpowre Companies in every condition and people find different sources to find best job. Recruitment Agency Pakistan Similarly companies who need manpower also want to find the best way of recruitment. Manpower Supply companies The key to access all these benefits is to trust a reliable recruitment Manpower Solutions agency that has been providing employers and job seekers and Candor Manpower Group giving the results they hope for.

on Jun 1, 2013

Because of it, fleets have 117-101 vce access to safety data than ever, and they are using that data to improve their standing with FMCSA and their safety performance. In short, fleet managers are finding new ways examcollection 117-101

on Jun 3, 2013
Of which get framework furthermore assists seeing that talk about DEPT . OF TRANSPORATION agencies are with greater regularity doing work throughout jurisdictions to support just about every other’s recovery initiatives by like large-scale thunder storms, ” he talked about.

on Jun 22, 2013
on Jul 19, 2013

I want to thank you for this informative read; I really appreciate sharing this

on Aug 4, 2013

I really like this enthusiastic job you are doing folks.
Go to Carthago Music

on Aug 5, 2013

I will be back to look at some other posts that you have another time.Learn More About Haoqun Food

on Aug 15, 2013

Well, Youre definitely somebody that has something to say that people should hear. Keep up the great work. Keep on inspiring the people!loans A2Z bad credit loans

on Aug 23, 2013

We could find on the arm mode with the loyalty press in the YouTube style. buy youtube views

on Aug 23, 2013

We need to say about Instagram usage in the leading posts to control buy instagram likes cheap

on Aug 26, 2013

The move is intended to ensure driver safety in a section of roadway where saturated soils have loosened the guardrail along the eastbound lane.

on Sep 2, 2013

In fact, very few people do realize the importance of having a disaster kit and its role in saving their life in case of sudden emergency attack. It is always wise to be ready to face emergencies before they strike your place. headphones

on Sep 18, 2013

am preparing a college paper and collecting information on this topic. Your post is one of the better that I have read. Thank you for putting this information into one site. best mattresses for back pain

on Sep 24, 2013

The draw back being that every message on traditional mobile phones will solely passbook be a hundred and sixty characters long and it does not contain any specific colors, graphics or logos. Therefore, the sole thanks to very grab your audience's attention is to be very inventive together with your verbiage and use fabulous and irresistible offers where attainable.A banner advert may be a good way to grab attention once someone is accessing a relevant site or Associate in Nursing mobile marketing app they need downloaded to their phone.The banner can crop up on the users screen commonly either at the highest or bottom of the page. It will be bespoken to possess the colors, logo, text font and even footage of your selection.

on Sep 24, 2013

In fact, very few people do realize the importance of having a disaster kit and its role in saving their life in case of sudden emergency attack. It is always wise to be ready to face emergencies before they strike your

on Oct 15, 2013

I went to a special doctor in San Diego considered a quack by the medical profession and he diagnosed me with vestibulitis. He wanted me to take a myriad of hormones and if that didn't work I could have a vestibulectomy. I chose to do neither, Thank Goodness, single serve coffee maker, under counter coffee maker, braun coffee maker, keurig coffee makers reviews

on Nov 8, 2013

I think more updates and will be returning. I have filtered for qualified edifying substance of this calibre all through the past various hours. Taruhan Bola 88tangkas

on Nov 14, 2013

Other factors could play into a decision, including what some observers have claimed is a need to correct a lack of diversity on the court in terms of educational and professional backgrounds. Currently, all the justices attended either Yale Law School or Harvard Law School (although Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School), and Kagan is the only one who didn't previously serve as a judge before being appointed to the court, best single serve coffee maker, venus factor reviews

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Trucks at Work?

Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

Blog Archive

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×