Resources Being Sent to the Front Range from Multiple Local Government Agencies
Pitkin County Commissioners today gave their support to a multi-agency effort to provide assistance to flood ravaged counties on Colorado’s Front Range. As calls for “mutual aid” began to rapidly multiply, Pitkin County’s Emergency Management Department implemented a local Incident Management Team (IMT) to coordinate the deployment of everything from search and rescue personnel to heavy equipment. As many as 20 Front Range counties became quickly overwhelmed when the flooding that began Thursday destroyed roadways and communities.
“We’re talking about an area the size of Delaware that has been impacted by flooding,” said County Manager, Jon Peacock when addressing Pitkin County Commissioners during a work session today. “Our response to this need will require some service sacrifices locally but will not impact our ability to respond to emergencies in our own community,” Peacock said.
Pitkin County’s Interim Emergency Manager, Valerie MacDonald, Is leading the IMT effort. She has asked for an inventory by this Thursday of all local personnel, equipment and services that can be sent to the Front Range.
“What the Incident Management System is designed to do is manage our response and resource assistance. We need to keep track of everyone and everything through our IMT structure to avoid duplication, confusion, to manage costs and the possibility of resource shortages in our own community. The last thing we want is for people to ‘self-deploy’ to help without informing our IMT,” MacDonald stressed.
Some Pitkin County Emergency Support Function (ESF) leaders have already been deployed to assist flooded communities this week. MacDonald herself spent four days at the Emergency Operations Center in Boulder County helping with logistics. Two members of the County’s Health and Human Services staff, Director Nan Sundeen and Assistant Director Mitzi Ledingham, are currently on site assisting with sheltering needs. Pitkin County Sheriff Director of Operations Alex Burchetta was in Jefferson County earlier this week helping with incident response planning. Members of Aspen Mountain Rescue are assisting, along with members of the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department. Officials agree that the experience they will get assisting with a large-scale disaster like this one is valuable should the need occur locally.
“We are still in the emergency response phase of this incident,” County Manager Peacock said. “It is likely we’ll be called upon for months to come for assistance in things like building inspection, road and bridge construction, environmental health and home appraisal among many other services counties provide,” he said.
Commissioners gave their full support to the effort, with the understanding that some of the expenses incurred may or may not be reimbursed by the State of Colorado or FEMA.
“Providing mutual aid to our fellow counties in need is what we do in Emergency Management,” MacDonald said. “We can be there for them and they’ll be there for us if we should ever need assistance.”