In December 2011, The Department of Homeland Security NPPD/Office of Infrastructure Protection and the All Hazards Consortium co-sponsored a one day facilitated workshop to discuss the transit of response and mutual assistance across State lines. Mutual assistance is called upon by the energy and telecommunications sectors to restore critical infrastructure in the event of a man-made or natural disaster (e.g., hurricane, flood, and tornado).
The workshop was convened to discuss the challenges and propose solutions to facilitate the multi-State transit of response and mutual assistance. Historically, the rapid movement of large convoys of resources across multiple State and/or national boundaries to support response and recovery following major disasters is slowed or disrupted by the need to address and adhere to varying local and State requirements such as stopping at weigh stations or other types of screening.
Participants in the session included critical infrastructure owners and operators from the energy, communications, transportation, banking and finance, and commercial facilities sectors. State participation included the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation and State of New Jersey, Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
A key finding of this session was that owner/operators have generally good knowledge of protocols within their home State and those in the immediate surrounding area, but are not cognizant of protocols in States further away. This is a constant problem when the owner operators mobilize resources on a multi-state level. The session also identified several resources (e.g., 511.com for traffic information) that were not as well known to the private sector participants.
Currently there is no government mechanism for the intra and inter-state coordination of the transit of private sector mutual assistance assets – responding to and returning from a disaster event.
Other issues for consideration:
- Federal vs. State highways requirements
- State declarations of Emergency – often include waived requirements
- Adjudication and notification of other local law enforcement agencies regarding convoys and working thru how State transportation departments and State Police/local law enforcement can come together in communicating better regarding permit and other issues
A Steering Committee was formed by the private sector participants, co-chaired by PHI, Verizon, NJ OHSP and Bank of America.
The participating states of the All Hazards Consortium indicated that they are
enthusiastic in supporting the dialogue and intended outcomes of this initiative with Pennsylvania and New Jersey providing initial involvement.
Initiative Goals and Objectives:
- Develop a clear problem statement
- Create shared perspective and consensus between public and private sector participants on the needs, obstacles, processes, and ways forward towards expediting power restoration efforts across the region
- Enhance public-private coordination to expedite transit of private sector mutual assistance response & recovery assets across state lines for the rapid restoration of critical infrastructure
- Identify means and capability to meet state transit requirements in an efficient and timely manner initially in two states with expansion of 9 states at a later date
- Develop a sustainment plan
- Improved understanding and shared perspective of private sector objectives and public sector requirements
- Document each state’s process & requirements for private sector utility fleet “entrance” and “pass through” in NJ and PA for normal and emergency conditions with the intent
- Develop initial contact directory of individual involved in the process
- Sharing of plans and information on resources already available from State and commercial sources to ease transit and transit coordination
- Agreement on the need to further planning, exercises, research/discuss protocols or processes
- Develop a framework for future joint planning and exercise efforts
Initial Areas of Coverage:
New Jersey and Pennsylvania initially. Spread to other states in future.
- Regional Directory of Public and Private Sector
- State guidelines for entrance and pass through requirements for each state
- Integrated processes / plans for improved coordination and expediting of resources
- Education activities
- Begin Exercise with FEMA Region III states in 2013 (CATEX Exercise Series)
Initial Results (Dec 2012):
The Hurricane Sandy “toll gate” process workaround leveraged relationships in the Multi-State Fleet WG to create a new toll gate process for power fleets with NJ that spread around the region resulting in faster movement of truck through toll stations.
Other uncovered opportunities to leverage existing transportation technologies more efficiently, resulting in faster movement of fleets, resources and payments to state.