Emergency Management entails planning and coordination of personnel, equipment and materials required to either mitigate the effects of, or recover from, natural or man-made disasters, or acts of terrorism.
Public Works has the responsibility to protect public health and safety, and to preserve public property and infrastructure from the effects of hazardous events, earthquakes, floods, etc. Our role is to identify and mitigate hazards, preparing for and responding to, as well as managing the recovery from, emergency situations that effect our infrastructure, including damage-assessment surveys of public facilities, roads, bridges, channels, levees, and other infrastructure.
Our citizens have the responsibility to prepare their families to cope with emergency situations and to organize their affairs and property in ways that will aid the government in managing emergencies. We will assist our citizens in carrying out these responsibilities by providing public outreach and information prior to and during emergency situations.
To achieve our objectives, and in conjunction with Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, we have organized an emergency management program that is both integrated (employs the resources of County and city government, organized volunteer groups, and businesses) and comprehensive (addresses mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery).
Preparedness focuses on preparing equipment and procedures for use when a disaster occurs. Preparedness measures can take many forms including the construction of shelters, implementation of back-up life-line services (e.g., water, sewage), and rehearsing evacuation plans. Planning for all different types of events, of all magnitudes, is of utmost importance, so when a disaster does occur responders know exactly what their assignments are.
In an emergency, public works staff works closely with public safety, whether its law enforcement or fire personnel, to assess damage and develop and implement responses. The Public Works Agency plays a key role in the cities’ response teams. In fact, public works was officially added as a first responder in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Public Works personnel also serve as part of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Agency Operations Center (AOC) when activated.
In major events, transportation and our watersheds are two important areas of focus for public works personnel. The access to and from impacted areas is often damaged or impassable during an emergency response. In such cases, restoring this access is essential to save lives and preserve public property. The Public Works Agency is called upon to bring in the heavy equipment and personnel to remove debris and re-establish access for emergency workers who need to rescue or evacuate residents.
The recovery phase starts after the immediate threat to human life has subsided. The immediate goal of the recovery phase is to bring the affected area back to normalcy as quickly as possible.