chapter  31
Resilient Community Networks after Disaster
ByJack L. Harris, Marya L. Doerfel
Pages 7

Bobby 1 climbed the steps of the volunteer firehouse to the temporary emergency operations center as Hurricane Sandy headed straight for the coastline. Minor flooding was reported in Bayport and the beach in neighboring Branchville was almost completely washed away by the time Bobby woke up. Bobby is the head of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for Bayport, a small town on the Lenape River two miles from the ocean and several miles downstream from where the Lenape River enters Dutchman Bay, a critical part of New York Harbor. Serious and focused, Bobby was known for his collection of ‘toys,’ which he had amassed by applying for every grant imaginable over the last decade. Bayport’s OEM was well stocked with generators, light towers, trucks, a flat-bottomed boat, and jet skis. The town also had a collection of gas canisters and could rely on both town and county gas pumps for refueling. Personal supplies including flashlights, water, and emergency blankets were also stockpiled. State protocol called for OEM to act as the coordinating agency during natural and manmade disasters. This meant that all emergency response—police, fire, ambulance, along with public works, utility agencies, and building contractors—reported directly to the OEM command center, which could then dispatch aid to impacted locations. Town OEMs coordinate with county OEMs, which coordinate with State OEM which operates a command center at State Police headquarters. State OEM coordinates directly with the Governor’s office and federal authorities. Each local OEM works directly with local officials such as the mayor’s office.