FULTON, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — BNET offers emergency reentry, now with interoperability between CEAS jurisdictional programs. This allows essential employees to be recognized and given immediate access for post-disaster reentry.
Adopting CEAS for Your Community
New York City initiated CEAS disaster reentry program in 2004 following 9/11. Massachusetts and Rhode Island followed, along with major northeastern cities, citing the potential for post-disaster reentry complications in this densely populated region of the country. Today, CEAS Partner Programs include NYC (NYCEM); Statewide Programs MA (MEMA) and RI (RIEMA); City of Buffalo, NY; Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, PA; City of Baltimore, (MOEM) MD; City of Stamford, CT; Nassau County, NY; Suffolk County, NY; Rockland County, NY; and Erie County, NY.
Emergency Access System
Why do emergency managers still struggle with post-disaster reentry after all the lessons learned in the past? Having a system in place before a disaster occurs is essential for a smooth recovery process to get businesses and utilities working again and residents able to return to their homes.
A system that aimed to provide access placards to West Maui residents was canceled just hours after rollout began, due to “overwhelming demand from non-essential individuals and non-Maui residents who have flooded the distribution areas,” the Maui Police Department said Monday morning.
— The Maui News, September 12, 2023
What happened in Maui can be evaluated for future learning for all emergency managers. Complex situations, like the one in Maui, can tax everyone involved. Reentry happens after every disaster and is worth some thought about how to deal with it.
Issue #1: No plan before the disaster.
Failing to plan for post-disasters is a shortcoming and one of the most overlooked parts of many emergency management plans. Some parts of the country tend to overengineer post-disaster reentry, while others want to keep it simple. There is a middle ground that can work for most, but it begins with planning.
Some jurisdictions are concerned with having an evenhanded approach, not wanting to create the illusion of favoring a particular group for reentry, ensuring that everyone has an equal chance. Conversely, some jurisdictions approach reentry with protocols based around strict authentication and tier classification of individuals.
Both methods work if law enforcement understands the plan.
Issue #2: Lumping all personnel into one process.
Businesses are different from residents. Business drives the community recovery. The faster the business community can evaluate and recover, the faster the assets can be leveraged to stabilize the community. The good news is that essential employees can be credentialled via preexisting, third-party organizations like the nonprofit Business Network of Emergency Resources (BNET) through its Corporate Emergency Access System (CEAS).
Residents are typically the last group to reenter, not because they are less important, but because without essential lifelines to support them, they can become a liability if conditions are not favorable for reoccupation.
Issue #3: Vetting everyone on-site.
It doesn’t take much to imagine the chaos that ensued and caused Maui officials to shut down their program. Trying to manage an ad-hoc reentry plan on site may not have been the best choice. Simple technology could have been leveraged to help alleviate the problems. An introductory online resident’s registry with a printable/displayable letter or placard cwas an option that could have been deployed relatively quickly.
The CEAS program is available for local governments at no cost. Businesses in locales where CEAS has been adapted can enroll online at ceas.com/enrollment.
Author: Pete Picarillo, President & Chief Executive Officer, BNET, Inc., can be reached at (888) 353-2638 for reentry access program questions.