Government organizations and agencies from five states, the district of Columbia and the federal government are currently participating in hurricane response training and exercises as part of 2018 National Level Exercise (NLE), a biennial exercise led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This year’s NLE is called Vigilant Guard 18. The simulation, Hurricane Cora, made landfall near Hampton Roads, Virginia, and caused severe loss of life, and damage to critical infrastructure as well as homes and businesses throughout the mid-Atlantic region, according to Montgomery Community Media.
Locations for hurricane response training exercise include the Montgomery County’s Public Safety Training Academy, Perry Point VA Medical Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Camp Fretterd Military Reservation, Springfield Hospital Center, Baltimore City Fire Academy and Curtis Bay.
Nearly 2,000 members of the National Guard, active duty military and civilians are participating.
FEMA leads the national-level exercise every two years to test the abilities of all levels of “government, private industry and nongovernmental organizations to protect against, respond to, and recover from” major hurricanes, according to the agency.
Variables for the 2018 NLE include long-term power outages and how that affects critical infrastructure, including transportation and communications systems.
“Resiliency goes beyond just strengthening infrastructure, it is ensuring that citizens, state, local, tribal and territorial governments have the tools and skill sets necessary to reduce the impact of future disasters,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long in a prepared statement.
There are four main objectives for NLE 2018:
#1 Pre-Landfall Protective Actions
Examine and validate the capabilities of federal, state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as private industry, nongovernmental organizations, community organizations and members of the public, to take coordinated and inclusive protective actions prior to a projected major hurricane landfall in accordance with applicable plans, policies and procedures.
#2 Sustained Response in Parallel with Recovery Planning
Demonstrate and assess the ability of federal, state, local, tribal and territorial governments, in coordination with private sector, philanthropic and nongovernmental partners, to conduct inclusive post-hurricane landfall response operations and simultaneously conduct inclusive recovery planning activities.
#3 Continuity in a Natural Disaster (Resilience)
Demonstrate and assess the ability of federal and non-federal government organizations to implement continuity plans and perform essential functions appropriate for incident conditions to sustain National Essential Function 6 (“Providing rapid and effective response to and recovery from the domestic consequences of an attack or other incident,” according to FEMA’s National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan, page 17).
#4 Power Outages and Critical Interdependencies
Examine and validate the capabilities of federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to support the energy sector and synchronize efforts to manage the consequences of long-duration power outages and critical interdependencies.
Explore our previous coverage of hurricane response lessons: