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Disaster Preparedness Program and Homeland Security Program Office Partner to Hold NOAA’s National Level Exercise

JULY 11, 2022 — On June 14-16, 2022, the Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP) partnered with the Homeland Security Program Office to hold NOAA’s National Level Exercise.

A graphic showing the planet Earth.
Screenshot of the exercise’s hypothetical tsunami as displayed on Science on a Sphere. Image credit: NOAA.

This exercise – based on FEMA’s NLE scenario – simulated an entire rupture of the 700-mile Cascadia Subduction Fault which would severely impact the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, as well as parts of Canada. This devastating, hypothetical scenario would heavily impact NOAA personnel, mission, and infrastructure in these areas. Not only would the earthquake cause major damage, it was followed in the scenario by aftershocks, a tsunami, and a Spill of National Significance (SONS). 

To assess NOAA’s ability to respond to such a catastrophic scenario, the exercise focused on four objectives:

  1. Assess the initial impacts to NOAA personnel, mission, and infrastructure in the scenario area of impact. 
  2. Demonstrate NOAA’s ability to establish a functional Incident Management Team to support the NOAA Administrator, the Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, and the identified event-specific NOAA incident coordinator. 
  3. Demonstrate NOAA’s ability to rapidly resume/restore Primary Mission Essential Functions, Mission Essential Functions, and respond to the disaster.
  4. Determine and evaluate applicable policies, authorizations, procedures, and approvals for Evacuation Orders, NOAA loss of life, and other relevant NOAA employee/family assistance currently available.

Throughout the exercise, NOAA staff participated in facilitated discussions and solved problems presented by exercise injects related to the hypothetical scenario. There were 140 NOAA staff in attendance throughout the exercise from various offices across the agency. Their participation and engagement will serve to strengthen the agency as a whole. The planning team is currently working to distill notes and feedback into an actionable after-action report. 

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Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:41pm PST