Below is the text version for the video, Technical Assistance: Critical Facilities and Hazards. In this video, Emily Wendel and Hannah Rabinowitz of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discuss natural hazard preparedness for critical functions, buildings, and infrastructure as part of the technical assistance offered through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP).

Text Version

[Music plays, title screen shows “Energy Transitions Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy: Partnership Project, Technical Assistance”]

[Woman sitting in a brown leather chair starts speaking]

Hi, my name is Emily Wendel and I’m from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. I’m looking forward to working with you as part of the multi-laboratory Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project team.

I live in Bend, Oregon, right by Mount Bachelor, so I know about living in the shadow of a volcano.

[Image of Emily on Mount Bachelor in the snow]

This year’s fire season also brought a range of additional natural hazards to the front of mind for me and my community.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

Today, I’ll be discussing some of the key steps that communities must take to be prepared for natural hazard events. Though there are many important steps, a good place to start is identifying critical functions, buildings, and infrastructure that need to remain operational even in the event of a natural hazard. Another initial step is to identify the key hazards that your community could face.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, along with our partner labs, has extensive experience conducting resilience assessments for a wide range of sites and communities of different sizes and locations. One of the first things that can be done is to identify the critical functions that your community needs to prioritize through the resilience assessment process. This can include functions performed at fire departments, schools, and community centers which can serve as gathering locations or temporary shelters in the event of a natural disaster.

Identifying these key functions can help to focus the resilience planning process on what will have the largest impact if it’s out of commission.  Through this process, we’ll be focusing on energy resilience, so a good place to start is asking the question: “What functions or activities in my community need to stay online if we face power outages for a long period of time?”

Once you’ve identified these critical functions and activities, you’ll be able to dive deeper into understanding the buildings and infrastructure that allow that function to serve the critical needs of your community.

[PowerPoint slide showing a flowchart. Critical Community Functions with an image of a hospital is at the top, which leads to two paths. One: Building (Houses a critical load) then Flexible System (Adapts to critical load needs) and Two: Infrastructure (Provides energy to a critical load) then Redundant system (Provides backup for critical infrastructure)]

Here is an example of a hospital. Many communities would consider this to be critical. Within the hospital, you might have multiple critical energy loads that must be maintained. An operating room is one example.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

By teasing apart these critical loads that your community needs, we can start to identify the existing infrastructure in place to support them, and any redundant backup power systems that can be installed to ensure continued power supply during an energy outage.

And now I’ll turn it over to my colleague to discuss some approaches to thinking about natural hazards that could impact your community.

[A woman with long brown hair speaking]

Thanks, Emily. Hi, my name is Hannah Rabinowitz, also from the Pacific Northwest National Lab. My research background has focused on earthquakes, particularly in coastal environments.

[Photo of a woman in a blue shirt taking out aluminum foil near cliffs]

These pictures show me taking a look at faults in some places that you’d expect, like California, as well as some you might not, like Vermont.

[Photo of a woman near a rocky area]

But earthquakes aren’t the only hazards that we need to think about when we’re looking at what really matters to your community.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

Our team works on identifying the range of hazards that can impact your community. While disruptions to the power supply can occur for a wide variety of reasons, identifying the ones that are particularly likely to impact your community is a great place to start. This can include maintenance issues, but it can also include any natural hazards that your location is particularly exposed to.

[U.S. map with coloring showing the difference in hazards across the country]

In this map, you can see that these hazards can be pretty different depending on where you are.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

Now, when we think about improving our resilience to natural hazards, there are two ways that we need to understand those hazards.

First, we need to know how severe could the hazards that we’re exposed to actually be?

[Image of trees and branches falling on power lines]

For example, if we are looking at strong winds, we may want to focus on events with wind speeds above about 50 miles per hour where significant damage to infrastructure may be expected. Not all windy days will down a power line like this example in New Jersey.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

Second, we need to know how often these events will occur. It’s possible that large natural hazards, for example a large magnitude earthquake like this one in Alaska,

[Image of a freeway road split and a vehicle caught on the broken roads and a man viewing the damage]

are so infrequent that there are other types of events that must be prioritized for mitigation measures.

[Image of a store on fire, image of a flooded road near a railroad track]

On the other hand, it’s also possible that the impact of those largest events is bad enough that, even though they don’t happen often, it’s essential for the community to focus resources on being prepared for them.

[Video returns to woman speaking]

By looking at these two factors, severity and frequency, we can start to understand the risks that a community faces.

Thank you for watching this video to learn about how we can help you identify your community’s critical facilities and the natural hazards that you face. We look forward to working with you towards your more resilient future.

[Music plays, title screen with “Energy Transitions Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy – Partnership Project | Technical Assistance, Office of Strategic Programs| Solar Energy Technologies Office| Water Power Technologies Office | Office of Electricity]