The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments presented a new work plan to its Board of Directors today to strengthen regional emergency preparedness and responsiveness.
COG is in the process of reviewing the region’s emergency plans, with special emphasis on examining where local efforts rely on state and federal assistance and how special populations, such as elderly and low-income citizens, are served by the current plans.
Gordon Ayoagi, Homeland Security Director for Montgomery County told the COG Board that it is essential to determine, “What will happen if local governments exhaust their resources in the days following a major catastrophe.”
In the next four months, COG will facilitate communication between all levels of government officials to review the process of obtaining state and federal resources in the timeliest way. Through coordination by COG, local governments already have a history of providing assistance, mutual aid, to each other during emergencies.
Long-term goals will include planning a major regional emergency exercise in 2006 and finalizing an updated Regional Emergency Coordination Plan that is consistent with any new federal emergency planning mandates.
The effort will be led by COG’s Chief Administrative Officers Committee as well as the region’s emergency managers. The National Capital Region Emergency Preparedness Council, which is made up of local elected officials, state emergency managers, homeland security and transportation officials, and other regional stakeholders, will provide oversight.
After 9/11, COG helped bring the region together in homeland security planning efforts, by making it a priority to unite federal, state and local governments with businesses, transportation and health entities, utility companies, educators and volunteer groups.
In September, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, Fairfax County Chairman Gerry Connolly, and other COG Board members asked for a reevaluation of emergency plans in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.