Hurricane season in the Atlantic has officially begun. Running from June 1 through November 30, this is the time of year the Federal government ramps up its hurricane emergency plans and protocols, working closely with industry and government partners to prepare for – and respond to – any events that may arise. The federal preparation includes the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has throughout the year been fine-tuning emergency response procedures with the private sector, preparing to respond to – and recover from – such an event.
Advanced preparation and planning is crucial to an effective hurricane response, and DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) is helping to lead those efforts. Created to protect critical energy infrastructure from all hazards, including natural and man-made threats, CESER is responsible for executing DOE’s Energy Sector Specific Agency (SSA) and Emergency Support Function 12 (ES#12) (Energy) roles and providing DOE's support to the Infrastructure Systems Recovery Support Function.
A primary role is managing responders specializing in energy infrastructure and systems, who can be quickly activated and deployed to disaster sites. Another is coordinating with deployed personnel, other DOE offices, and Federal, state, and local agencies and industry during an emergency. If a hurricane impacts the United States, DOE publishes Situation Reports with details on the storm’s impact to the energy sector as well as recovery and restoration activities.
DOE and CESER’s partnerships with industry and government at the Federal, state, and local levels include routine pre-storm season coordination calls to discuss security, resiliency, and emergency preparedness. These communications boost hurricane readiness, as do scenario-based exercises leading up to Hurricane season, through which participants test their emergency plans, determine strengths and weaknesses, and identify gaps.
Another tool CESER uses to monitor energy infrastructure assets, report energy outages, display potential threats to energy infrastructure, and coordinate emergency response and recovery is an interactive geographic information system called EAGLE-I. EAGLE-I facilitates regional electric sector situational awareness and accelerates restoration. It has been expanded to provide access to emergency operations centers and energy emergency assurance coordinators in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and FEMA also encourage all individuals and families to be prepared before a hurricane approaches, and the NOAA and Ready.gov websites provide valuable information to this end. And because it is important to follow the directives of state and local emergency management authorities and local utilities, another valuable resource is the Community Guidelines for Energy Emergencies. To learn more about DOE’s role in facilitating recovery from disruptions to the energy supply, visit the energy security section of the CESER website.
The following are steps to help plan and prepare for hurricanes:
- Know what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.
- Create an emergency communication plan with your family before a hurricane.
- Know your local community’s evacuation plan and evacuation routes, sign up to receive local alerts and warnings, and listen to the advice of local officials before, during, and after a storm.
- Check your insurance coverage, damages caused by flooding are not covered under normal homeowner’s insurance policies.
- Strengthen your financial preparedness by collecting and securing personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records.
- Have emergency supplies in place at home, at work, and in the car.
- Download the FEMA mobile app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. The app (available in English and Spanish) provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.
To learn more on how to prepare before, during, and after a hurricane, visit: www.ready.gov/hurricanes.
The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) leads the Department of Energy’s emergency preparedness and coordinated response to disruptions to the energy sector, including physical and cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and man-made events.