Langley – Approximately 50 representatives from area law enforcement, emergency management, fire departments, the Grand River Dam Authority and other agencies took part in an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) review and drill at the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley on Wednesday, December 5.
The exercise is an annual requirement for GRDA, under the terms of its operating licenses for its hydroelectric facilities issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). GRDA has developed EAPs for Pensacola Dam, Robert S. Kerr Dam, the Salina Pumped Storage Project (SPSP) and the dike which protects Salina from the waters of Lake Hudson.
“The purpose of an EAP is really fundamental,” GRDA Assistant General Manager of Hydro and Thermal Generation Charles Barney told exercise participants. “It’s to safeguard lives and reduce property damage in the event of a dam failure.”
Notification flowcharts, hydroelectric project descriptions, inundation maps and alternative systems of emergency communications are among the topics covered in the plans. During this exercise, the Salina dike EAP was the focus and a dike failure — resulting from an extreme rain/flood event — was the scenario.
As participants worked their way through the mock disaster, they shared their questions and comments with others in the room. According to Mayes County Emergency Management (MCEM) Deputy Director and Lead Public Information Officer Michael Dunham, there is really no substitute for face-to-face interaction during the planning and review stages, long before a real disaster response is necessary.
“We’re seeing each other multiple times and we know what everybody’s responsibilities are,” said Dunham, “and we’re meeting with the people we would have to talk to on a regular basis in times of disaster.”
GRDA Assistant General Manager of Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Brian Edwards served as facilitator for the event and echoed Dunham’s comments. Edwards said the interaction resulting from the plan review was as important as the review itself.
“From being involved in large incidents in my career, I know you can never underestimate the importance of pre-planning,” said Edwards. “More importantly, you cannot underestimate the importance of meeting the people you will be managing with during an incident.”
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