Only days following the earthquake that shook this eastern seaboard, Hurricane Irene crept in a northerly direction, forcing people into their homes for shelter. Prior to Irene’s anticipated arrival on Saturday, the grocery stores were packed with people scrambling for supplies. According to personal Facebook reports, this natural disaster seemed to invoke fear and caution at a heightened degree – quite possibly indicative of the week’s earlier encounters. Yet, one industrious group undeterred by Nature’s whims were illustrious camera crews.
Habitually, nearby Old Town Alexandria is commonly greeted with flooding and affiliated scenarios, making sand bags a typical entity for area homes and merchant shops. Raised boardwalks along the water’s edge in some parts of town highlight the locals’ understanding of a need for necessary precaution. Such circumstances are also prone to encourage area and national television crews to be among the first to report the latest of a given event’s catastrophic calamities. Yet security concerns for local fire departments and medical emergency assistance teams takes on an entirely different tone.
The Alexandria Fire Department, as well as those from surrounding areas such as DC, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince George’s County, are all called upon to have emergency plans in place for a heightened state of emergency. They also seek to evaluate data and monitor the storm’s progression in cases where advanced notice is available. This recent visit by Irene had Alexandria calling upon the National Harbor for a spot to house their water patrol, given the storm’s predicted severity. Thankfully, such extended measures proved unnecessary, according to the Alexandria Fire Department’s Public Information Office. Additionally, the Alexandria Fire Department had also taken proactive measure and secured an EMac agreement for a Swift Water Strike Force with neighboring Loudoun County. EMac agreements are standard across fire department personnel and utilized when local circumstances became unbearable to that given locality. Hurricane Katrina was one such example where the state governor signed an agreement calling for fire personnel to deploy from elsewhere.
Some standard operating procedures for these and affiliated security measures include a collaboration across counties and jurisdictions for the safety of every area. Fire department computer systems, for instance, are networked throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region and call upon those units ready to move into action at the moment needed. These and related measures indeed ensure the safety of our entire region, which provide comfort in the face of natural disasters.