Successful disaster preparedness is directly related to the quality of planning, training provided, and the testing that occurs before a disaster strikes. The National Level Exercise 2011 (NLE 11), which will simulate a disastrous earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), is an opportunity for the private sector and multiple government jurisdictions to evaluate response and recovery capabilities for a catastrophic event. Located in the center of the United States, NMSZ encompasses parts of an eight-state region including Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Japan has been widely recognized as having the most robust disaster planning of any country in the world, particularly when it comes to earthquakes. In 2010, about 670,000 residents participated in preparedness drills as part of Japan’s Disaster Preparedness Day; held annually since the damaging earthquake of 1923, when tremors measuring 7.9 left Tokyo and its suburbs in ruins and killed 140,000 people, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.
Time magazine describes just how devoted Japanese leadership and the general public are to disaster preparedness in an online article, How Japan Became a Leader in Disaster Preparation. The general public, including school-aged children, participate in annual mandatory evacuation drills. Japanese leadership has emphasized the importance of mutual aid. Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, has stated, “I would like to ensure that the government will prepare itself for disaster, together with the people, so that it can confidently say that ‘providing is preventing.’ ” Hundreds of earthquake and tsunami shelters have also been built along the east coast of Japan to protect its people. CBS News describes Japan’s Disaster Preparedness Day as a collaborative endeavor, including the military, local police, firefighters, and the United States Navy; that incorporates mandatory evacuation drills, early warning and communication system testing, private sector collaboration, and emergency response activities. Despite these preparedness drills, the 9.0 magnitude quake that hit northern Japan on March 11, 2011, resulted in widespread destruction and loss of life. As of April 4, the Japanese government reported an estimated 135,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged, the number of deaths is 12,087, the number of the injured is 2,876, and the number of missing is 15,552. The number of those evacuated is approximately 206,400. CNN has reported that approximately 6 million households in Japan (more than 10 percent) were without electricity. Multiple media outlets have stated that homes were washed away after a dam failure in Fukushima Prefecture, located on the island of Honshu. Fukushima Prefecture borders the hard-hit Miyagi Prefecture to the South and is also home to the damaged nuclear reactor. The reactor has now leaked radioactive material into the surrounding atmosphere, and radioactive water has filled nearby tunnels, which has spilled into the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese government estimates recovery costs could reach as much as $310 billion.
Japan’s experience is an important lesson for the United States because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has warned that an earthquake in NMSZ could result in “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States.” FEMA further estimates “widespread and catastrophic” destruction could occur across the eight states that make up the NMSZ. A 7.7 magnitude quake or greater would cause damage to tens of thousands of structures affecting critical infrastructure. According to a FEMA report, Impact of Earthquakes in Central USA, nearly 715,000 could be damaged, 2.6 million households could lose electric power, and casualties could climb to almost 86,000 with 3,500 fatalities. The direct economic losses are predicted to be a staggering $300 billion across the eight-state region.
May 16-19, 2011
WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE:
Organizations with responsibilities in critical infrastructure protection including Federal, State, tribal and local government agencies; owners/operators; nonprofit agencies; academic institutions; nongovernmental organizations; and other critical infrastructure stakeholders such as trade associations.
BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATING:
• Learn how to better prepare for an all-hazards event
• Build and foster relationships at the Federal, regional, State, local, and tribal levels
• Practice your business continuity plan
• Increase awareness of how to respond in an emergency
• Protect your bottom line—being prepared will result in less downtime and fewer lost employee work hours
The NLE 11 Exercise Calendar is continuously updated based on exercise planning and development outcomes. Currently the NLE 11 key dates are as follows:
Great Central U.S. Shakeout April 28, 2011
Functional Exercise TTX May 16-19, 2011
National Recovery Seminar June 2011
Recovery Exercise TTX September 20-22, 2011
For more information about NLE 2011, contact: private.sectorNLE@hq.dhs.govbuildings
To prepare for a national catastrophic event of this magnitude, the U.S. government has several overarching objectives for NLE 2011. The exercise is meant to test the ability of the United States to:
◆ Offer mass care services (shelter and food) for the affected general populations.
◆ Expand healthcare resources to provide medical personnel and logistics.
◆ Implement recovery processes after a catastrophic earthquake, including establishing recovery priorities, assessing the economic impact, and coordinating and implementing recovery and relief plans.
◆ Maintain continuous information sharing for the duration of the response operation.
◆ Implement an effective national media strategy in response to a catastrophic earthquake.
◆ Ensure that affected populations are safely sheltered-in-place and/or evacuated to a safe refuge area, and are effectively and safely returned following the event.
The disaster in Japan serves as a harsh reminder of the importance of disaster planning and preparedness. In The Japan Earthquake & Tsunami and What They Mean for the U.S., a document prepared for FEMA after Japan’s recent earthquake, experts acknowledged that the earthquake damage in Japan was relatively contained in part because the epicenter of the quake was 62 miles from shore, but mostly because Japanese building codes are so restrictive. Although older wood residential buildings suffered the most structural damage resulting in collapse, many of the buildings in Japan remained intact. According to the same FEMA report, nonstructural damage has caused greater dollar losses than actual structural damage. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates there is a 25 to 40 percent chance, in a 50-year time span, of a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake in the NMSZ. Private sector organizations falling within the NMSZ in the United States do not have the earthquake design standards that are as strict as those in Japan, which makes coordinated preparedness testing even more important. NLE 11 provides a perfect means for the private sector to test disaster recovery and business continuity plans, in addition to providing subject matter expertise in a coordinated response effort with multiple government jurisdictions.
PARTICIPATION ESSENTIALS: HAVE YOU COMPLETED THE FOLLOWING?
✓ Sign up for the Department of Homeland Security, Lessons Learned Web site, which can be found at https://www.llis.dhs.gov
. Once registered, please subscribe to the channels listed below by e-mailing Channels@llis.dhs.gov
and provide the name of the channel, the reason you are requesting the channel, and your name. Channels you will need to subscribe to are:
• “National Level Exercise 2011 Channel”
✓ Identify the most appropriate level of play for your organization by choosing one of the following participation options:
• Full Engagement – Planner and Player
• Full Engagement – Simulation Cell (Simcell)
• Leadership Discussion Testbed
• For a complete description of each participation option, please refer to the March edition of the “NLE 2011 Preparedness Matters” newsletter found at www.llis.dhs.gov
or in the FEMA “Private Sector Participation Guide for the National Level Exercise 2011” document also found on the DHS Lessons Learned Web site.
✓ Download and review the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “Private Sector Participation Guide for the National Level Exercise 2011.” To access the Private Sector Participation Guide, log onto https://www.llis.dhs.gov/index.do
. You must have access to the National Level Exercise 2011 – National Private Sector Working Group (NPSWG) channel. Click on NPSWG General Membership link and then locate NLE 11 Participation Guide 8 Mar 2011. If you don’t have access to LLIS, please contact Private.sectorNLE@hq.dhs.gov
or apply directly to www.llis.dhs.gov
✓ Send your contact information to Private.sectorNLE@hq.dhs.gov
. Please indicate: the desired level of participation, i.e., national or regional/State level; which states are of interest to you to ensure that you are assigned to the appropriate Exercise Planning Team, which of the 18 sectors you represent or are involved with, and other key information needed to design and coordinate your participation in NLE 2011.
✓ Gain access to the Homeland Security Information Sharing Network (HSIN). HSIN is a national secure and trusted Web-based portal for information sharing and collaboration between Federal, State, local, tribal, territorial, private sector, and international partners engaged in the homeland security mission. Membership in HSIN is Community of Interest (COI)-based. To become a member and gain access to NLE 2011 Exercise information, please request access to the critical infrastructure COI. If you need additional information, please contact the Mission Advocate listed as the POC for a particular COI(s), or e-mail the HSIN program at HSIN.Outreach@HQ.DHS.gov
Office of Infrastructure Protection Keeping America Safe, Secure, and Resilientwww.dhs.gov/criticalinfrastructure