Utilizing the FEMA Region 6 Daily Situational Awareness Briefing NWS/FEMA/State Offices Collaboration Tool to Help Build a Weather Ready Nation
Travis Grigg, Paul Spencer, and David Rivas FEMA Region VI Headquarters Denton, TX
Michael Coyne, Jennifer McNatt, Brian R. Hoeth, Kurt M. Van Speybroeck, and Mark Wiley NWS Southern Region Headquarters Regional Operations Center Fort Worth, TX
In February 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region VI began conducting Daily Situational Awareness Briefings via webinar and conference call. The briefings include daily updates on: the National Terrorism Advisory System; a Region VI Snapshot (key regional events, declarations -- new or pending, preliminary damage assessments, and fire management assistance grants); State Emergency Operation Center activation levels; deployed FEMA teams; seismic activity, wildfires, weather and space weather; and news and announcements.
Attendees of the Daily Briefings include FEMA Region VI personnel and representatives from the Region VI state emergency operations departments. Initially, FEMA Region VI personnel provided the weather portion of the briefings but, after a few months, we realized that more scientific and comprehensive briefings could be delivered by meteorologists from the NWS Southern Region Headquarters (SRH) Regional Operations Center (ROC). A key element behind integrating the NWS into the Daily Briefings is the enhanced relationship that has been built between FEMA Region VI and the NWS SRH ROC because of the NWS Regional Operations Center pilot project initiative.
The Daily Briefings have been a great tool to allow federal, state and local emergency operations personnel access to accurate and timely weather briefings during every stage of emergency response and recovery operations. In addition to the Daily Briefing support, the NWS SRH ROC personnel have integrated their expertise into Region VI disaster response operations. Upon regional activation, the NWS SRH ROC deploys personnel to the FEMA Regional Coordination Center as integral members of the Regional Incident Support Structure. They also deploy a liaison to the National Hurricane Center to serve as a member of the FEMA Hurricane Liaison Team. This level of technical expertise and support is invaluable to decision making at all levels of leadership.
In September 2011, the SRH ROC became one of six NWS pilot projects staffed by a group of emergency response specialists/meteorologists to test the concept of developing integrated regional-scale situational awareness and communication capabilities to provide mission critical decision support services. Prior to the establishment of the pilot project, the NWS SRH ROC was staffed by meteorologists and hydrologists from Southern Region field offices on temporary monthly rotations. The pilot project has proven that having permanent staff has enabled the NWS SRH ROC to enhance previously established relationships with regional partners, including FEMA Region VI and all emergency support function federal, state and local agencies, as well as volunteer organizations active in disaster support such as the American Red Cross.
This presentation will describe and show examples of the FEMA Region VI Collaboration Tool and discuss how the Tool is being used to build a Weather Ready Nation.