National system helps deploy local resources to assist in major emergencies

Posted at 8:27 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 21:29:26-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Deploying resources across state lines in times of a major emergency requires a national system to facilitate requests.

Emergency personnel and power crews descended on southwest Louisiana last week to help with recovery efforts after Hurricane Laura made landfall on Thursday morning. The Category 4 storm brought in sustained winds of 150 mph and a storm surge of at least 12 feet to some coastal parishes.

NewsChannel 5 was in Louisiana when the hurricane hit the state and assessed damage in Lake Charles where damage was widespread.

Emergency responders from different Middle Tennessee agencies including the Franklin Fire Department, Williamson County Emergency Management Agency and the Nashville Fire Department deployed to Louisiana last week to help with rescue and search efforts. They soon turned around since Louisiana eventually had enough resources.

Providing mutual out of state is far from random and sporadic. Since the hurricane was so big and widespread, local jurisdictions needed the state of Louisiana to reach out to neighboring states for more assistance. Any state can send a request through a national system called Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The state of Louisiana did just that last week.

"It's basically a mutual aid agreement or an assistance agreement between states," Williamson County Emergency Management Agency Senior Operations Manager Bryan Hovde told NewsChannel 5. "The receiving states look at what those requests and are able to respond if they have resources within their state that can meet the need."

Tennessee has already created task forces that can meet specific needs to help speed up the process. Although their help was no longer needed, Hovde said everyone is willing to offer support.

"We want to be a good partner to everybody that needs help and it gives us good opportunity to go out and use equipment to support other local communities with the knowledge that
some day when we need help locally, that these organizations will help us in Middle Tennessee," he said.

Teams out of state that respond to help do not get paid through their local departments. The state requesting assistance is responsible for paying their hours.