Public Works as 1st Responder
In 2003, President George W. Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5) in which a Public Works response to emergencies and disasters was recognized as an absolute necessity, and the Federal government is directed to include Public Works in all planning and response efforts.
So, how do the various Public Works Divisions respond to emergencies and disasters, and how does it effect the general population? Well, here are a few examples:
Street & Drainage Maintenance Division
The Street crew is considered to be one of the City’s first responders. Before, during and after emergency events, they are responsible for placing barricades to assist, or block traffic during flood events, shelter-in-place, and other emergency situations. They play an important role in keeping the City’s infrastructure operational before, during and after emergency events. During natural disasters, such as tornados, hurricanes, and heavy rain events, you will find them clearing debris from roadways so emergency vehicles have full access to homes, residents and businesses, clearing inlets and drainage ditches of debris to prevent structures from flooding. You can often find them in the middle of a storm, working hard to protect both your property and City property as well as protect human life. During power outages they assist with generator deployment to keep traffic signals and sanitary lift stations operational. They are also expected to shelter-in-place at a City facility during hurricanes in order for them to be available immediately following the storm to clear debris from streets.
Water & Wastewater Maintenance Division
The Water/Wastewater crew is considered to be one of the City’s first responders. Before, during and after emergency events, they are responsible for keeping our lift stations operational and assisting the Surface Water Treatment Plant and Wastewater Treatment Plant when necessary. The crew is also used to clear debris from roadways immediately after any storm event. They are to shelter-in-place at a City facility during hurricanes in order for them to be available immediately following the storm to repair lift stations, busted water mains, sewer lines and clear debris from streets.
Why, you may ask, are sanitation workers considered first responders? During natural disasters, such as a hurricane, the crew is housed and on standby to assist in clearing debris blocking roadways. Most of the cleanup takes places as the storm is winding down, but occasionally they may have to go out during the height of a storm to keep roads cleared for emergency responders. For natural disasters that come without warning, such as tornadoes and floods, the crew would be expected to report to work immediately to assist with clearing streets and right-of-ways for easy access of emergency workers. It is also important to note that clearing of storm debris is a health and safety necessity.
Traffic & Electrical Divisions
This division carries first responder classification because of the important role they have in keeping the city’s infrastructure operating during emergency events. Not only do they assist in clearing roadways of debris, and repairing traffic signals after natural disasters they, more importantly, are on hand to make emergency repairs to generators that operate the water treatment plant, wastewater plant, lift stations and other city facilities which helps keep the city functioning during events or more quickly recover after an event in order to maintain city services to our citizens.
Surface Water Treatment Plant
It is no surprise that the treatment of potable water is an extremely important service the City supplies to the Citizens of Deer Park. The water plant is in operation 24/7, including during emergency events, to ensure the water system doesn’t fail. Keeping water services available is a vital health requirement for our residents which we take very seriously. In the event that a emergency event doesn't have a direct, negative, effect on the treatment plant, employees are quick to get out in the field and assist with storm debris cleanup, barricades or whatever may be necessary to protect the City and it's residents.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
When President Bush recognized Public Works as a first responder, he understood the importance of keeping the infrastructure operational during and after emergency events. The WWTP is in this category because of the importance of keeping the city’s sanitary sewer conveyance and treatment system operational at all times. Loss of our sanitary systems could mean sewer backups and overflows into homes, businesses, streets, etc., which is a major health and safety concern. During emergency events, the WWTP is manned 24/7 to monitor and manage the system.
This division is considered one of the City’s first responders. Though the division is not what you would typically think of as a 1st responder, the crew helps by making sure the 1st responder vehicles & equipment are operational at all times, even during an emergency event. Actually, municipal fleet maintenance is a very necessary and important division that has an overall effect on our City. Consider not only our emergency response vehicles but also all the other fleet vehicles out there. Whether the vehicles are used to repair water lines, sewer lines, lift stations, mow parks, perform drainage maintenance etc., without our fleet being well maintained it would be impossible for the various City departments to perform their duties.
Planning & Development
Consisting of The Building / Permitting Department, Engineering Department and Code Enforcement, the department carries a first responder classification. Although they do not respond during an emergency event, they are expected to be on standby for immediate response after a natural disaster for damage assessment. They are called on to inspect and ensure the safety of buildings and structures, for occupancy, within the City.