IEM Inc., a Baton Rouge, La.-based emergency management and homeland security consultant, announced it will lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In making the announcement today on behalf of teaming partners Dewberry, URS Corporation and James Lee Witt Associates, IEM Director of Homeland Security Wayne Thomas explained that the development of a base catastrophic hurricane disaster plan has urgency due to the recent start of the annual hurricane season which runs through November. National weather experts are predicting an above normal Atlantic hurricane season with six to eight hurricanes, of which three could be categorized as major.
The IEM team will complete a functional exercise on a catastrophic hurricane strike in Southeast Louisiana and use results to develop a response and recovery plan. A catastrophic event is one that can overwhelm state, local and private capabilities so quickly that communities could be devastated without Federal assistance and multi-agency planning and preparedness.
Thomas said that the greater New Orleans area is one of the nation’s most vulnerable locations for hurricane landfall.
“Given this area’s vulnerability, unique geographic location and elevation, and troubled escape routes, a plan that facilitates a rapid and effective hurricane response and recovery is critical,” he said. “The IEM team’s approach to catastrophic planning meets the challenges associated with integrating multi-jurisdictional needs and capabilities into an effective plan for addressing catastrophic hurricane strikes, as well as man-made catastrophic events.”
IEM President and CEO Madhu Beriwal is the recipient of a special merit award from the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association ( LEPA ) for her work in New Orleans hurricane emergency preparedness.