Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992 and the first Category 5 hurricane on record to impact the Florida Panhandle. The highest sustained winds recorded reached 160 mph. Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle early Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 10, 2018. The storm’s heavy rain, high winds, and extreme storm surges caused massive destruction in its path, spawned numerous tornadoes and caused numbers of deaths.
Given Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) Central Region’s (CR) recent completion of ICS training and the ICS D-SNAP operational pilot, DCF CR was tasked to provide personnel support at three sites in the Panhandle. Among those positions were the key billets of Incident Commander (IC) and Plans Officer. This was an opportunity for DCF and CR to capitalize on the organizational and operational lessons learned during the D-SNAP ICS pilot but now in a live situation. Besides being a real event, what made this event different was that the Michael D-SNAP sites were categorized as medium to small size based on the projected number of applicants to be processed. This was different from the IRMA mega sites in Orlando, Broward and Miami that utilized convention centers and stadiums to service tens of thousands of applicants daily. The key question going in was: is D-SNAP ICS scalable for any site from the smallest to largest?
The first Michael site opened on October 31, 2018 and last site ended services on November 19, 2018. The CR utilized the Incident Command System (ICS), modified as required to meet the medium to small size site requirements. Feedback from participating CR personnel at the Michael After Action meeting held on December 10, 2018 was as follows:
- More successful operation using the modified ICS than year prior without ICS
- Stakeholders provided positive feedback and felt more engaged in the planning and decision-making process
- Staff were better accounted for before, during and after the event and well-being checks were a successful part of this process
Is D-SNAP ICS scalable for any site from the smallest to largest? Answer: Definitely