EMAC has been used for the deployment of many human services missions such as social services, mass care, and incident stress management.
Oklahoma has led in the Mission Ready Package development of a mass care solution they call “Shelter in a Box”. The intention is to pre-plan in order to support local officials in Caddo and Bossier Parishes with their sheltering and mass care needs in case of a hurricane or other disaster. By sending personnel from Oklahoma to Louisiana under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), evacuees will be closer to home when the storm passes and conditions are safe.
The plan consists of taking personnel from emergency management and other state and local agencies, volunteers, and the equipment needed to run a large shelter for several hundred guests or more.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) worked with Louisiana to determine shelter locations available in Shreveport and out of that need the Oklahoma Shelter Program was born. Now, instead of transporting Louisiana evacuees, Oklahoma emergency management personnel and resources will go to Louisiana.
“We’re here to support the local officials. It’s their disaster, and we are here to help them.” said Albert Ashwood, Director of OEM.
During the Shelter in a Box exercise, three buses brought more than one hundred volunteers and much of the equipment for the shelter to the state fairgrounds in Shreveport. Local emergency management officials in Shreveport have worked closely with their counterparts in Oklahoma and determined what each needed to provide.
In addition to the physical needs of the guests at the shelter, including food, water, safety, health assessments, dietary needs, and sanitation, the team from Oklahoma also helps provide for the emotional and informational needs of residents. These include disaster mental health services, opportunities for guest families to participate in activities, status of the disaster, status of family members, and information on available assistance.