"Hurricane Pam" simulation

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The "Hurricane Pam" simulation, the week-long exercise outsourced to FEMA contractors in July 2004, "brought sustained winds of 120 mph, up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and storm surge that topped levees in the New Orleans area. More than one million residents evacuated and Hurricane Pam destroyed 500,000-600,000 buildings." [1][2]

"Pam's mock damage, spread over 13 Louisiana parishes, was extensive. Phone and sewer services were knocked out, chemical plants flooded. About 200 miles of road lay under at least 10 feet of water. About 175,000 people were injured, 200,000 became sick, and more than 60,000 were killed ... About 1,000 shelters would be needed for evacuees. The shelters would need to stay open 100 days, but state resources could only keep them stocked for five days at most. ... With many residents stranded by floodwaters, boats would be needed for about 20,000 rescues. Helicopters would be needed for 1,000 more rescues." And a "catastrophic flood ... would leave swaths of southeast Louisiana uninhabitable for more than a year." [3][4]

The last "Hurricane Pam" training exercise was completed August 24, 2005, less than a week before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Penny Brown Roberts reported September 12, 2005, in The Advocate.

"'It's eerie how close it is,'" said Madhu Beriwal, founder, president, and CEO of Innovative Emergency Management Inc., comparing "Hurricane Pam" to Hurricane Katrina. IEM "led a team of three firms"--URS Group, Inc. and Dewberry--"that created the simulation, working under contract for the Federal Emergency Management Agency." [5]

The report produced following "Hurricane Pam" was "designed to be the first step toward producing a comprehensive hurricane response plan, jointly approved and implemented by federal, state and city officials," the Associated Press reported September 9, 2005. "But a lack of funding prohibited planners from quickly following up on the 2004 simulation. ... 'Money was not available to do the follow-up'," then FEMA director Michael D. Brown said.

FEMA used to know what was coming and study how to prepare, at least for the 5-day "Hurricane Pam" simulation exercises in July 2004, during which "more than one million residents evacuated", apparently conveyed by UFO," SourceWatch contributor Maynard wrote.

"As with most IEM projects, the Hurricane Pam exercise was put together at the last minute, in a blind animal panic with no time for refinement, testing, or subtlety, but it still was a remarkable and bold idea," a former IEM employee wrote September 6, 2005.

The woman in charge says "We all share the blame."

"Madhu Beriwal equates disaster planning with marathon running. 'You train and time yourself and figure out what you need to do to achieve it,' she says. As the president of Innovative Emergency Management, Inc., in Baton Rouge, La., Beriwal knows about training for marathon-size catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina. Her company played a role in the Hurricane Pam simulation, which involved almost 300 officials getting ready for a major-category storm hitting New Orleans. But after witnessing the devastation left by Katrina and the blundered response from relief officials, Beriwal wonders if the training needs to be rethought. 'The system failed,' she told TIME when asked who in the end was to blame. 'We all share the blame.' After saying this, she begins to cry," TIME's Tim Padgett reported September 12, 2005.

"Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan" Plan

On June 3, 2004, Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. (IEM), a Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based "emergency management and homeland security consultant," announced that it "will lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"In making the announcement today on behalf of teaming partners Dewberry, URS Corporation and James Lee Witt Associates, IEM Director of Homeland Security Wayne Thomas explained that the development of a base catastrophic hurricane disaster plan has urgency due to the recent start of the annual hurricane season which runs through November. National weather experts are predicting an above normal Atlantic hurricane season with six to eight hurricanes, of which three could be categorized as major.

"The IEM team will complete a functional exercise on a catastrophic hurricane strike in Southeast Louisiana and use results to develop a response and recovery plan. A catastrophic event is one that can overwhelm State, local and private capabilities so quickly that communities could be devastated without Federal assistance and multi-agency planning and preparedness."


A DRAFT copy of the "Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Functional Plan" (IEM/TEC04-070), dated August 6, 2004, (125-pdf) was posted online by MSNBC Media. The Plan was prepared under FEMA BPA HSFEHQ-04-A-0288, Task Order 001.

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