Posts from — June 2010

MONDAY MATTERS: Shelter-In-Place: Expanding Emergency-Disaster Sustainment Options

This is the first post in our new Monday Matters series. We are encouraging everyone to take a few minutes out of their Monday to look at specific areas in preparedness and apply the information directly to your personal preparedness plan. Make your Monday matter!

Shelter-In-Place (SIP) is a term widely used when developing emergency and disaster response plans which are hazard driven protective measures for homes, businesses and workplaces. SIP protective measures and procedures are perhaps quite familiar to those in communities surrounding and down-wind of nuclear power plants, military facilities that stockpile chemical agents, and industrial chemical manufacturing plants.

Sheltering-In-Place and “hunkering down” to ride out an extreme weather emergency are not exactly the same thing, but they do share many common elements. Emergency SIP procedures are “typically” related to a release of hazardous airborne contaminates for a relatively short duration (hours) but could last longer. However staying in place, confronting other types of disasters, either at home or work, could last days or even weeks. When notified by local authorities to Shelter-In-Place, potentially serious life threatening conditions exist and if you are not prepared, frankly speaking you may be out of options.

Perhaps today’s most common threat where Shelter-In-Place techniques can be employed are during hazardous materials (HAZMAT) incidents due to an industrial accident, train car derailment or over turned tractor trailer transport causing a release of hazardous chemical or radiological contaminants into the air. Of course we must also consider the seemingly unthinkable aspects of protection from a terror threat where an attack using chemical, biological or radiological materials could potentially occur in high density population urban centers.

Take the time to evaluate the range of potential disaster threats where you live and work that may require Shelter-In-Place protection. Add a SIP component to your disaster plan (P.A.C.E.), determine primary and alternate safe room locations, acquire and stage the necessary supplies and most importantly, practice your Shelter-In-Place plan. Your life and those of others may well depend on it… be resilient!

Facta non verba…

June 28, 2010   4 Comments

A peek behind-the-scenes…

In addition to putting the final touches on our web store, we’ve been prepping our warehouse for orders. It is amazing how busy the team has been taking care of all the things behind-the-scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. Here’s a couple photos of our warehouse team in action…

June 22, 2010   No Comments

The Legal Side of Disaster Preparedness for Businesses and Corporations [Part II]

Continued from part 1 on The Legal Side of Disaster Preparedness for Businesses and Corporations

Consider the massive class action filed against the United States government which grew out of the Hurricane Katrina disaster [1]. The lawsuits are based, in part, upon the alleged failure to plan by the Army Corp of Engineers. As of May 2007, approximately 250,000 people seeking over $278 billion in Katrina-related damages have had lawsuits filed on their behalf against the U.S. government alone. On top of that, numerous other organizations, corporations, public officials, levee boards, insurance companies, and others are being sued for additional billions of dollars in damages.

The residents involved in the Katrina Canal Beaches Consolidated Litigation asserted that the operation and maintenance of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) caused a levee to be breached catastrophically. The Court found that the Corps’ negligent failure to properly plan the maintenance and operational capacities of the MRGO, in light of the possibility of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, was a substantial cause for the fatal breaching of the levee and the subsequent catastrophic flooding. While the Court considered several of the government’s defenses to the action, it ultimately concluded that none of these were available to the Corps. Damages were awarded to most of the residents involved in the litigation, based on the fact that they demonstrated that their claims properly arose under the law of negligence as set forth under the Louisiana Civil Code and the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Photo credit Wikipedia

One particularly interesting portion of the decision involves the Court’s analysis explaining that, while planning had been made based upon previous data, no updated plans had been made based upon new data that had come to light:

[A]n agency that has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) cannot simply rest on the original document. The agency must be alert to new information that may alter the results of its original environmental analysis, and continue to take a “hard look at the environmental effects of [its] planned action, even after a proposal has received initial approval.” If there remains major Federal action to occur, and the new information is sufficient to show that the remaining action will affect the quality of the human environment in a significant manner or to a significant extent not already considered, a supplemental EIS must be prepared.

The teaching of this decision is clear: companies must have critical event contingency plans in place, and these plans must be continuously updated and revised based upon any new data that may become available. If a company fails to do so, it risks substantial liability based upon such negligence. Because we live in an increasingly litigious society, companies must plan for possible legal attacks from individuals, including employees, customers, and vendors, who have been injured as a result of a company’s lack of planning for a foreseeable critical event.

[1] In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consol. Litig., 647 F. Supp. 2d 644 (E.D. La. 2009).

Guest post by Paige Fitzgerald of Troutman Sanders LLP.
Paige Fitzgerald / Troutman Sanders logo

June 17, 2010   2 Comments