What have we learned from this?? Probably more than words can express. I am not going to sit here and arm-chair quarterback (going to save that for next weekend when football starts - GO STEELERS !!!)
First of all, WE all need to take a hard look at ourselves, our departments and our communities. What if this happened to you? Granted, not all communities are subject to hurricanes, but each community is subject to some sort of disaster (natural or man-made). Now is the time to get out those contingency plans, blow the dust off, review them and practice them. Get plans going for what you don't have. Sure, everyone has drills, but do all players participate? Does the mayor understand his/her role in a disaster? Even the mayor's secretary needs to understand his/her role. What if #1 and #2 are incapacitated, can #3 step up to the plate?? Most of us have been in some incident where our regular players are missing (vacation, training, seminars). You know, acting captains and acting engineers when we pull up on the "big one".
Where are these plans?? If stored electronically, can you access them in a power failure? Does your emergency generator supply all of headquarters or just part of it?? When communications goes down and we need to rely on portable radios, do you have enough batteries and how will you charge them once they are dead?? Got enough fuel to run apparatus?? Can you run the fuel pumps?? Food and water?? Where are contacts stored (State, Local, OES, FEMA)?? Once again, if these plans and contacts are stored electronically, can you access them or should you have hard copies?? Sure, laptops are great, but they too need batteries.
Sure, most departments have mutual-aid agreements. What if the disaster is wide-spread and you can't rely on mutual-aid.
There are several articles on this web-site. Stephen Marks writes about Hurricane Preparedness, but why limit yourself to hurricanes. Be ready for all. Goldfeder wrote "Who forgot what?" Yeah, more than one person, agency probably dropped the ball, but now is the time to pick up the ball and run with it. Another forum member wrote a thread about Culture Change needed? I agree with the originator.
There is nothing worse than allowing disaster to strike twice because we fail to learn or be prepared. Surely not all senarios can be covered, but something is better than nothing. Disaster preys on the weak and unprepared.......TAKE CARE OF THE LITTLE THINGS AND THE BIG THINGS TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES