HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has directed Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Glenn Cannon to lead a thorough After-Action Review (AAR), in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, on the state’s response to recent winter storms.
A storm on Feb. 4 and 5 caused nearly 849,000 power outages across the state, particularly in southeastern and south centralPennsylvania where significant ice accumulations occurred. A second storm on Feb. 12 and 13 left behind 12-18 inches of snow across much of the commonwealth.
“In Pennsylvania we ‘lean forward’ before emergencies strike,” Corbett said. “That is why I directed PEMA to increase staffing levels at the commonwealth’s emergency operations center before freezing precipitation started to fall. This early activation of resources enabled us to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of Pennsylvanians and our local governments.”
Corbett is calling for the AAR to examine the actions that worked best and incorporate those into the standard operating procedures for all future emergencies. Corbett also wants to examine those areas that need to be improved to better serve Pennsylvanians in response to future weather events.
In addition to examining the state’s preparedness and response, the AAR calls upon the Public Utility Commission to work closely with electric utility companies to ensure that they took the steps necessary to respond swiftly and appropriately.
“We need a thorough review of actions, to understand what worked best, and to identify areas where response measures can be improved,” Corbett said. “This information is vital as we continually update our emergency preparedness and response plan to ensure that the needs of our citizens are met during emergencies, particularly our most vulnerable citizens.”
Corbett issued an emergency proclamation on Feb. 5, authorizing state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation. This proclamation was crucial in helping the commonwealth draw down support from the federal government, including the staging of generators to provide electricity to vital facilities, such as nursing homes and hospitals.
During both storms, Corbett ordered members of the National Guard and heavy equipment to be staged throughout the Commonwealth to aid in assistance and recovery efforts. Additionally, multiple state agencies cooperated to provide regular health and safety checks on motorists delayed on roadways due to accidents or unsafe travel conditions.
“I thank the citizens of Pennsylvania for their patience and responsiveness during both of these storms,” said Corbett. “Their common sense and cooperation in staying off the roads and helping their neighbors is indicative of what it means to bePennsylvania proud.”
In 2012, Corbett called for a similar AAR on the response to Hurricane Sandy and many of those valuable lessons, such as the staging of generators and coordination of response measures by utility providers, were used during the recent ice storm.
The report is expected to be submitted to the governor within 30 days.