For those that participated in the March 23 simulation, the next day was a bit of deja-vu. Just 36 hours after practicing a damage assessment, Allen was hit by a massive hail storm and CERT was activated immediately following.
The call from AFD came at 7:00 pm and by 7:30 pm, a net was in progress and a command post was underway at Central Station. The first damage assessment team was formally dispatched at 7:30 which is incredible and, some damage was reported by Responders in route to Central Station via GroupMe which allowed early awareness on the location, extent, and degree of damage.
An incident action plan went into affect quickly and Operations was able to rapidly aggregate the location of damage reports and the areas impacted by the hail across north Allen.
Multiple assets proved invaluable to the effectiveness of our efforts. The N5UIG repeater’s recent enhancements provided reliable communication with all teams deployed across the city – as did skilled operators running the net. Large maps, both satellite image and streets, were instrumental in developing a plan and documenting damage. Having access to the Ron Gentry Training Facility supplied plenty of tables, chairs, lighting, power, parking, and creature comforts that allowed command staff to focus on the action plan. Most of all, having numerous, skilled, and capable members present and participating greatly helped the operation progress and evolve as needed.
The response effort was not without its challenges and shortcomings but the program accomplished all set objectives within a three-hour time span, delivered actionable intelligence to the authorities, and sent everyone home safely. The Allen Fire Department leadership on site expressed pride in the professionalism, precision, and expediency that was displayed by Allen CERT that evening.
We have collected observations and feedback from multiple Responders that participated in the effort and will be taking action to further improve our response operations. Allen CERT members should be proud to be part of a capable and recognized program that continues to serve the residents of Allen Texas.