Disaster Response and Coordination


GEOS Safety and Response Assists Coastal Customers During Hurricane

Hurricane Season 2008 was busy from the middle of August, until long after Hurricane Ike hit, leaving a wake from the gulf coast all the way through to the midwest. Many of the GEOS Safety and Response customers along the coast, began making preparations long before Ike hit with all of its force. "GEOS and our customer were prepared, not necessarily for the enormous force with which Ike hit, but we had our plans and procedures in place", said Mark Garver, CEO of GEOS Safety Solutions and the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC). Early in the season, the GEOS team met with customers to discuss employee safety and security of assets from New Jersey, down the coast to the tip of Texas. A major part of the planning, is who will be on site, at which facility, what is stored there, what emergency supplies will be needed, how will emergency notifications and communications be handled. It was critical for our customers to know their employees and families were safe, but also they needed to know where these individuals had evacuated to. Being able to get personnel on site to float tanks, secure tools and equipment prior to landfall, or the initial incident is a major part of the plan. However, once the incident hits, communications and other procedures will be tested. "With a large number of customers that own and operate key, if not major parts of the critical infrastructure of the Country, we know failure to perform is not and option", stated Garver. "We must have a plan, we need to exercise that plan to test and it."

Hurricane Ike Slams Galveston

GALVESTON - A day after Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast, residents left trapped by the storm struggle to survive. On Galveston Island, thousands who did not head warnings to evacuate are now trying to escape as conditions there begin to deteriorate. Source: News West 9

Rescues Continue in Texas; Millions Without Power

HOUSTON — Texas officials pushed on with one of the largest recovery operations in the state’s history on Monday, struggling to restore power to millions of people, supply food and water to evacuees, and rescue those who remained stranded in flood-ravaged homes and towns. As the flooding receded and Hurricane Ike’s devastating impact became clear, thousands of emergency workers — many of them supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency — fanned out across Texas, knocking on doors and scouring streets in search of survivors and, in some cases, bodies. Source: New York Times

Huge Storm Slams Into Coast of Texas

HOUSTON — Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, Tex., early Saturday as it threatened to devastate it and other towns along the Gulf of Mexico with a wall of seawater 20 feet high. Despite calls for evacuation, people who remained in Galveston were finding the storm to be more than they anticipated Saturday morning. About 5:45 a.m., Galveston Fire Chief Mike Varela said the city had received more than 100 calls for help. Most of those calls were from people seeking help to get out of their homes, he said. “We’ll prioritize once the weather permits and we’ll start going out and seeing what we can do for those people wanting assistance,” Chief Varela said. Chief Varela said flooding in the city was from 8 to 10 feet deep in some areas. On the way to a fire that his department couldn’t reach, he said he saw a pickup truck that had water over its roof. “The low-lying neighborhoods are extremely flooded right now,” he said. Galveston's city officials and emergency services personnel had been staying in the upper floors of the San Luis hotel, but they were moved to lower floors after windows broke because of the wind gusts. Asked to describe the city’s damage, Mr. Varela assessed it as a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. By late Friday, more than a million Texans had left their homes for safer places inland, but tens of thousands decided to tough it out, and the authorities feared that those people had put their lives at risk. Officials in Galveston, on a vulnerable barrier island, estimated that 40 percent of the city’s 57,000 residents had ignored an order to evacuate. Source: New York Times

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Incident Notification, Command and Response Coordination

Diaster and Business Continuity Planning

Prior to the beginning of Hurricane Season 2008, the team at GEOS and the IERCC met with our critical infrastructure customers to set objectives, develop response and communication plans and define roles and responsibilites. Jointly we needed to ensure safe and continual operations, even if customer employees needed to leave the remote facilities, we would have to provide communications and monitoring of those assets. The planning was certainly excercised both by Gustav and Ike as soon as the storm surge occured, many hours prior to landfall.

Incident Command

As Hurrican Ike approached the storm surge was significant to say the least, and we had to begin moving assets and resources out of the predicted cones of impact. Ike was a slow mover so the storm surge grew and stayed as it approached. The FEMA-certified team at the IERCC was operating in a Unified Command structure with our customers, and were in control of the response operations, logistics, safety, communications and asset deployment. We were directing both rotary and fixed wing aircraft into safe zones to be used immediately following the storm to assess damages and to immediately begin pipeline inspections. Vaccines were required, food, fuel, shelter, and water were all coordinated by the GEOS IERCC team.

Secure Incident Communication

With power and communication out in the entire region, for days and in some places weeks, GEOS needed to determine what communications could be used and where. With a combination of HAM Radio, Satellite Communication Devices, Mobile SMS, land lines in certain areas and cellular, GEOS was able to both contribute and lead the unified command structure and ensure the safety of all employees.

Remote Monitoring

The IERCC team diligently monitored status alerts from our customers, but in addition, the team was still responsible for monitoring ALL alerts from our other customers as well, not simply the ones impacted by the hurricanes. We never missed a call, or missed a response during the entire season.

Best of Class Incident Response and Coordination

The team at GEOS have responded to tens of thousands of incidents in over 140 countries since 2007. We have excelled in our areas of expertise on the global stage and have the history to show for it. Our entire operations team is trained and certified by the U.S. Government in all operational areas.

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