Tag: Disaster Recovery

The Anatomy of a Disaster Response

The forecast calls for a storm — It could be anything from a hurricane to a tornado or even floods. But the type of disaster doesn’t matter, because the Convoy of Hope team is prepared to jump into action no matter the situation.

What happens behind-the-scenes in Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services department? All year long, no matter the season, our staff and lead volunteers are constantly training and preparing for the next response.

Of course, there are disasters that catch all of us off guard — like earthquakes or tsunamis — but more often than not, disasters are weather-related in some way and that means we can see them coming, so to speak.

It all starts in the COHOC

Whether it’s a hurricane forming offshore, severe weather and tornadoes being forecasted or extensive rainfall leading to flooding, these types of disasters put our team into motion before they even occur. When the probability of weather-related events start increasing, we activate the Convoy of Hope Operations Center or the “COHOC” as we call it. While the COHOC exists within the walls of our World Headquarters in Springfield, Mo., technology today now allows us to have a virtual COHOC wherever we go.

Once activated, we are scouring multiple sources of data to mine out the latest intel to help us shape our potential response. At the same time, we are readying the appropriate trucks, supplies, equipment and personnel to respond,  should the situation escalate.

When we hit the road

If a response is warranted, we hit the road. The COHOC continues to provide support to the team while en route by providing the latest intel on the situation and identifying potential landing spots.

Once the deployment team is in full response mode in the field, support continues from the COHOC by seeking out the latest intel, but also by communicating with other parts of the organization to provide two-way communications to and from the field. It is important for the COHOC to act as the central hub of communication for the overall response.

In addition to the COHOC, we have a Mobile Operations Center and once deployed, it acts as our base for field operations. The Mobile Operations Center and the COHOC stay in constant contact for the duration of the response through cellular and satellite communication devices.

Cleaning and Debriefing

Once the response comes to an end and the team returns home, there is a plethora of tasks including cleaning and maintenance of equipment and even debriefing to refine our processes for the next response. Once all the work is done and things are back in place, we’re ready to do it all over again.

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Disaster Services / Staff Spotlight

Disaster Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, but what does that mean?

Preparedness is being prepared for the unexpected and having an emergency plan. This month serves as a reminder that we should all be prepared now and throughout the year.

Questions to ask yourself:

What kind of things am I planning for?

The most obvious answer here would be natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other weather-related events. But it’s also important to think about forest fires, power grid failures, terrorist attacks or even nuclear events.

Do you know what your hazards are?

Maybe you live in an earthquake prone area, tornado alley or on the coast where hurricanes are prevalent. Take a moment to think about hazards that might affect your family specifically.

What’s your emergency plan?

Being prepared means knowing ahead of time what you’re going to do in the event of the unexpected. Know where the lowest point in the center of your home is. Have an emergency kit with a flashlight, batteries, radio, water, snacks and other emergency relief supplies. Communicate to family members about your emergency location and where the emergency kit is stored.

Because each type of event will require a different action plan, be mindful there is not one way to respond to all disasters. But you must plan ahead, know your hazards and take action accordingly.

If you need help developing a plan, we encourage you to check out ready.gov for more information on getting and staying prepared.

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Disaster Services / Program Updates