HUMAN SERVICES EMERGENCY RESPONSE MANAGEMENT
In Washtenaw County, local and state governments and the private non-profit sector coordinate to initiate and manage human services responses to disasters and emergency situations. The Washtenaw County OCED spearheads the planning of a coordinated human services emergency response among dozens of public and private agencies and organizations.
It is important to note that disasters and emergencies, while similar, are two distinct occurrences and require distinct responses. The Dexter Tornado in 2012 was a disaster; there was a sizeable disruption in the normal day-to-day functioning of residents, property was destroyed, and residents experienced multiple basic needs issues. This disaster situation required a full-blown emergency management reaction. The Polar Vortexes from winter 2013-14, by contrast, were potential emergency situations, not disasters; basic infrastructure remained intact, however at-risk populations experienced greatly increased acute vulnerability. Residents’ acute needs called for increased and specific assistance from and coordination among agencies, but not full-blown emergency management. If a Polar Vortex had been accompanied by widespread power outages, it could possibly have been classified as a disaster.
The local human services response network is comprised of agencies that provide disaster and emergency assistance in various ways. For example:
· Assistance for families, individuals, seniors, and those with disabilities in meeting food, clothing, pet care, and housing needs.
· Mental health services
· Medical services
· Student resources
In preparation for winter 2014-15, OCED has reached out to human services agencies, looking for volunteer sites to serve as warming sites. Individuals needing to escape adverse cold conditions can temporarily stay at these warming sites before continuing on their journey, with adverse cold being when real or wind chill air temperature is at negative 20 degrees or colder.