From Harford County government:
The Harford County Department of Emergency Services recently hosted a one-day training exercise focused on hurricane response and recovery. The exercise was held at Harford Community College.
The exercise was conducted by Dr. Walter Maestri, former Emergency Manager for Jefferson Parrish in New Orleans and Kenneth R. Widelski, Emergency Response Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia. Dr. Maestri the Emergency Manager during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, shared his insights and “lessons learned” from one the nation’s worst storms including preparations for the storm, evacuation of New Orleans and neighboring parishes, and prolonged recovery efforts.
Approximately 80 personnel from various departments of Harford County Government, the three municipalities, Harford County Public Schools, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, and the Harford County volunteer fire and EMS service, participated in the training.
The exercise developed by Meteorologist Ken Widelski, involved a hurricane scenario similar in strength to Hurricane Sandy from 2012 which passed directly over Harford County. Exercise participants were tasked with developing strategies for storm preparation, response and recovery efforts. A component of the class referred to the Harford County Storm Debris Management Plan developed by the Department of Public Works with assistance from Dr. Maestri following Hurricane Katrina.
Commenting on the storm training exercise, Harford County Emergency Manager Rick Ayers said, “We were extremely fortunate to have Dr. Maestri share his experiences from Hurricane Katrina with us. His insight and experience in dealing with severe weather events helped make our exercise as practical and relevant to us as possible”.
Russell J. Strickland, Director of the Department of Emergency Services said, “Only through meticulous planning, exercises and preparation can we be ready to meet the challenges of severe weather events, particularly tropical storms and hurricanes. The assistance of Dr. Maestri and Meteorologist Widelski with the exercise will assist us in being better prepared to meet the challenges of the hurricane season”.
For further information on storm and emergency preparedness, visit the Harford County Department of Emergency Services website at www.harfordpublicsafety.org or call 410-638-4900.