Severe Weather Sample Situation Report

Communicating with your staff is essential before a severe weather event .  Here is a sample situation report that you can adapt for your workplace:

Please remember to dial _______ tomorrow morning before heading out to work. If the library is closed, all non-essential staff should not report to work. Essential staff will communicate with ________, who will be communicating with ____________.

Due to the many uncertainties of this storm, it’s hard to tell at this time what conditions will be like during the morning commute. Most of the forecasts I’ve seen show snow throughout the day, so even if we can open the library we may be in an early closing scenario. However, we’ll have to let it play out and make adjustments along the way.

The Service Continuity Team (SCT) and essential services staff are now on stand-by. Essential services staff from the standpoint of staffing the library and the SCT from the standpoint of keeping our core services available from their homes. Since there is the potential for power outages, _____ will coordinate the SCT.  If you are on the SCT and you lose power during business hours, please contact _____. ______ will then notify a backup, if one is available.

________ will be handling messages on the library’s website, and will be in communication with ___________ who will be handling social media.

Questions?  Please let me know.

Putting Us to the Test: Hurricane Sandy and Our Service Continuity Plan

Friday, October 26th:

We sent out an email to everyone on our Service Continuity Team asking for any changes to contact information and availability during the period of time Hurricane Sandy was predicted to affect the Central Virginia area.  Changes were made to our service continuity plan based on responses.

Sunday, October 28th:

University officials announce that classes are canceled for Monday and the clinics will be operating on a modified schedule.

Monday, October 29th:

10:30am:  We announce on the Library’s web page and Facebook that the Health Sciences Library will close at 7pm and that our after-hours area will open at that time.  We also activate our service continuity plan.  Our service continuity plan involves steps for keeping our core services and resources available from home.  These core services and resources include online resources, the proxy server, interlibrary loan (borrow), chat, reference email, and access to core textbooks.

Three staff are designated to handle access issues with online materials.  This provides redundancy if someone loses power.  Two staff are assigned to proxy issues and about four staff share chat/reference email.  Our ILL supervisor is the only one who can maintain ILL remotely, and we need power here at the library and her home for that to happen.

1:37pm: Lots of clouds but very little wind.  Rain and wind are suppose to kick in later this afternoon.

1:53pm: Hard rain begins to fall.  Wind is picking up.

Outside the Health Sciences Library at 1:53pm.

4:05pm: The SE/A RML in Baltimore will be closed tomorrow, and their “buddy” plan with PNR in Seattle has been activated.  The “buddy” plan involves forwarding all phone calls SE/A to Seattle.  This might come into play if SE/A libraries need to have their DOCLINE requests re-routed due to closures.

4:47pm: Two hours until Hurricane Sandy makes landfall on the New Jersey coast.  Currently, from what I can see as I look outside the library, we have rain with a good breeze.  Temperature has dropped to 44 degrees.  The last hour or so I’ve been going over power outage scenarios.

Tuesday, October 30th:

7:15am: Made it home safely at 8pm last night to power but no internet.  Still no internet this morning, so I came into work at 6:30 to check email and weather conditions.  Weather conditions this morning are a lot like they were last night: breezy with a light rain.

I updated our home page (we’re opening today at our regular time) and the library’s voicemail.  Time now to sort out the staffing situation.

1:07pm: Staffing has been worked out and we will be able to operate under our normal hours.  Our service continuity plan will remain in effect throughout the business day.

1:25pm: Our Head of Collection Development, working from home, notified library staff that he fixed an access problem for one of our online journals.

3:35pm: We will deactivate our service continuity plan today at 5pm.  Our Service Continuity Team will gather for an After Action Review on November 8th when we will talk about what worked as well as areas we need to improve.

Thursday, November 8th:

Our after-action review focused on communication issues.  Specifically, the best way to contact staff that the library is closed and that the Service Continuity Plan has been activated.  We had been relying on staff to contact the University’s incident notification telephone number, but, conceivably, there could be situations where staff are not aware that something has happened and therefore would not think to call that number.  While we consider alternatives, all departments may work out notification systems tailored to their staff.

In addition, we determined that we need to list additional staff on the Service Continuity Team, update our procedures for providing updates on our webpage, and add additional vendor contact information.

The Service Continuity Plan will be updated and distributed to team members by the end of next week.


Hurricane Sandy: Time for East Coast Libraries to Activate Service Continuity Plans

All libraries along the East Coast should be preparing for the possible arrival of Hurricane Sandy.  Activities should include the following:

  1. Ensure that contact information is current for all staff involved with service continuity.
  2. Check your service continuity plan for needed updates.  For example, have any passwords changed on any of your communication tools?
  3. Ensure that a ready supply of sheet plastic and water absorbent materials are available.

Rainfall potential

Report of the NN/LM Hurricane Summit

Click on the link or the image below to see our report of the NN/LM Hurricane Summit.  It’s very visual, in order to give the reader a feel for not just the content of the Summit but also the speakers and the venue.  Background information on some of the speakers and their past research is provided through hyperlinks, and contact information is available at the end of each section.  The Takeaways page lists key elements of the Summit that can be used to explore further research.

Featured Speakers

Raymond Santiago: COOP planning for the Miami/Dade Public Library System
MaryEllin Santiago: Experiences as project director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Gulf Coast Libraries Project
Mary Moore: University of Miami Health Sciences Library’s participation in Haiti earthquake relief
Tony Gonzalez: Emergency planning activities at the Miami/Dade Department of Public Health
Michelle Malizia: Survey of public libraries and disaster response

NNLM Hurricane Summit

2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Here’s NOAA’s time-lapse video of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. Although an active season, only two storms, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, had a direct impact on the mainland United States, causing flooding in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. Puerto Rico was spared Lee, but was impacted by Irene and Tropical Storm Emily.

Mid-Atlantic Resource Guide for Disaster Preparedness

Any library that suffered water damage from Hurricane Irene will likely be looking for disaster-related help.  The Mid-Atlantic Resource Guide for Disaster Preparedness, published in 2009, contains a wealth of resources.  For those of you not in the Mid-Atlantic region, there are a number of national agencies that you will  find useful for your disaster plan.  Thanks to the Conservation Center for the Arts and Historical Artifacts for compiling this very useful document.

Click on the following URL for a pdf of the document: