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New Systems and Training Increase Emergency Preparedness in Mont Belvieu

Mont Belvieu, TX, USA
The Atlas Community Team

Government Champion

City Manager

Cost

Zero upfront cost to local government

Project Status

Operational since 2021

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Source

At a Glance

After conducting an analysis of their emergency response plan, Mont Belvieu realized current practices were not up to compliance standards. To improve the plan, the town trained its employees in NIMS and adopted a mass notification system designed to ensure the highest level of preparedness.

Problem Addressed

As a rapidly growing city, Mont Belvieu was looking to create a thoughtful, planned approach to emergencies based on timely, accurate information.

The city had traditionally worked under the Chambers County emergency plan, but analysis revealed that the county plan no longer included the technology nor procedures necessary to meet overall operational needs. Meeting operational needs was crucial to ensure the safety of the overall community in the event of an emergency. They needed to create a more thorough plan to respond to any event, whether it be an environmental emergency, weather-related disaster, or an industrial incident.

The city was additionally looking to improve its preparedness, response, and fiscal responsibility to residents and partners through team-based, nationally recognized processes that met industry standards.

Mont Belvieu used/is using improved emergency management to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

In order to increase community safety, Mont Belvieu developed a plan that addressed four areas: rapid notification, consistency of information, emergency protective measures, and response capabilities. To monitor policy changes, the city added positions to the office of emergency management to cover all of the new roles necessary for program success.

The city created Mont Belvieu INFORCE for rapid notifications. The system allows the city to send out location-specific mass notifications to citizens about weather-related emergencies, special events, and other public safety notices. Another source of communication is completed through a new WeatherBug weather station which can trigger the city's siren system and push automatic notifications through INFORCE in the case of tornadoes.

To monitor notifications, the city hired a communications director trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). He works with the emergency management staff to maintain the system, and consistently deliver information. When an emergency strikes, he communicates from the emergency operations center (EOC) in conjunction with staff to ensure accurate, relevant information gets to citizens.

The city crafted an emergency operations plan and required all responsible staff to train on NIMS-level compliance. This means all staff is prepared to communicate effectively and efficiently in the face of an emergency, allowing them to properly protect residents.

Heavily populated with industrial complexes, Mont Belvieu needed to ensure they were ready in the case of an industrial emergency. To prepare for compliance, monitoring, and notifications, the city created a local emergency planning committee (LEPC), which is designated by law to organize the planning and development of industrial partners. LEPC committees meet monthly to talk through communications, public information, planning, emergency response, and resources. This results in location-specific procedures and plans for industrial complexes in Mont Belvieu.

Outcomes

  1. Consistently monitored systems allowed the city to easily deliver urgent and critical information to key residents and industrial partners
  2. An emergency operations plan that ensures protection and readiness for staff and residents alike
  3. Work with the LEPC has allowed the city to increase its information sharing ability, and has kept industrial partners safe in the face of emergencies
  4. Successful EOC activation for storm-related events and COVID-19 following guidance from the emergency operations plan

Something Unique

Mont Belvieu won an International City/County Management Association (ICMA) award for Excellence in Emergency Management for a city with population under 10,000!

Who Should Consider?

Communities with a large industrial population looking to streamline notifications and general communications in the face of community-wide emergencies.

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