Virginia Urban Forestry (& Friends) – Preparing for Disaster!

Strong winds topple yellow poplar
Strong winds topple yellow poplar

Paul Revell, U&CF Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), has organized a mock disaster exercise that will provide much more than a training exercise for Urban Forest Strike Team (UFST) crews in Virginia.  Paul has engaged 3 communities in the Tidewater Area – Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Portsmouth – plus Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), Fairfax County (VA), and UFST crews from the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS).  Urban Forestry South is assisting with technical support.

Jason Eaton of VDEM is managing the mock exercise that will include mobilization of VDOF UFST crews, state mutual aid involvement from Fairfax County, and an EMAC request for resources to his North Carolina EMAC counterpart Carolyn Freitag.

Jim McGlone (VDOF) and Alan Moore (NCFS) will be the Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader for the exercise, and Charles Bailey (Georgia Forestry Commission) will be the UFST GIS Specialist.  Texas A&M Forest Service is providing logistics support for the mobilization.

Paul has identified several objectives for the exercise:

  • Demonstrate UFST capabilities to VDEM, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers who will be attending training in the area during that week, and to municipal urban foresters and local emergency managers in the Tidewater Area
  • Continuing education for a full range of UFST resources
  • An opportunity to use the UFST risk assessment protocol based on the ANSI A300 (Part 9) and ISA Tree Risk Assessment BMP
  • Exercise the EMAC connection between Virginia and North Carolina so that we better understand the ability to respond regionally (i.e. across state lines).
  • Exercise State Mutual Aid between the City of Virginia Beach and Fairfax County for UFST resources

Following a VDOF/VDEM/UFS conference call briefing with the three communities, the participants identified 3 important outcomes from the exercise (in addition to the training and actual exercise protocol):

  1. A standardized UFST Damage Report “Template” that would be used by localities to submit Preliminary Damage Assessment requests (PDA)
  2. An urban forester (and UFST) training package for damage assessment needed to support the PDA
  3. A method to easily list UFST trained crews in a state (by organization) for mutual aid (from www.UFST.org)

The exercise will begin on September 6th when VDEM initiates the “mock” resource request through the EOC, and continues on the 9th when Paul Revell meets at the Virginia Beach exercise “command center” with the team leaders, community urban forest managers, and Eric Kuehler (Urban Forestry South).  The UFST crews will be mobilized to arrive on September 10th.

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