Pre-existing agreements for mutual aid assistance in emergencies help to ensure the timely provision of assistance from other jurisdictions and reimbursement of costs incurred by those parties who render such assistance.
Critical Workforce personnel are required to respond to and work disasters, particularly at a time when residents and businesses are evacuating. Critical Workforce are fire, police and infrastructure as well as other employees who would need to provide their services before, during and after a major disaster. FEMA recommends the pre-incident movement of as many personnel and equipment out of the area under threat as possible. In order to provide services post-storm, personnel would need to be housed in a convenient location for logistical, accountability and communication purposes. The Mercer University campus in Macon provides a location that can be accessed and utilized during a catastrophic (Category 4-5) hurricane scenario. In a catastrophic hurricane, a limited number of Cricial Workforce personnel will be housed at the City's Critical Workforce Shelter at the Industrial and Domestic (I&D) Water treatment plant campus.
This item assists in accomplishing the City’s goal of Public Safety and adds value to the residents feeling safe in their neighborhoods by providing appropriate measures to ensure the protection of the health and safety of workers from a catastrophic hurricane in support of responder operations and the affected community. The proximity of the facility provides the safety of a temporary relocation staging area out of the direct impact area but is close enough to allow the expedited return of City personnel to work after a storm and provide a continuity of services during that time.
The bigger story is that Savannah has been building its Emergency Preparedness program over the last several years and this, in turn, improves service provision to the public by allowing the City to keep more assets within a reasonable distance as opposed to releasing them.
There is no cost to enter the agreement and the City would only have to pay for any damages to University property that results from our use of their facilities.
The unintended consequences are that the Mercer University may be at risk from the same hurricane, particularly if it is one of a higher category, thereby putting its facilities in harm’s way as well.
One potential alternative the Council could consider is entering into agreements with other jurisdictions for billeting and workspace. Another alternative would be to invest in City infrastructure by building new City buildings that have Category 5 wind and surge protection areas and then store adequate supplies there to support the City workforce.