Operation: Green Mountain Boys

Green Mountain Boys AAR PDF

Hurricane Irene

Hollywood, MD

Grafton, VT

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

After Action Report

Hurricane Irene, the fifth costliest United States hurricane, was a large and very destructive tropical cyclone, which affected much of the Caribbean and East Coast of the United States during the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. The ninth named storm, first hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 2011 hurricane season, Irene originated from a well-defined Atlantic tropical wave that began showing signs of organization east of the Lesser Antilles. Due to development of atmospheric convection and a closed center of circulation, the system was designated as Tropical Storm Irene on August 20, 2011. After intensifying, Irene made landfall in St. Croix as a strong tropical storm later that day. Early on August 21, the storm made a second landfall in Puerto Rico. While crossing the island, Irene strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane. The storm paralleled offshore of Hispaniola, continued to slowly intensify in the process. Shortly before making four landfalls in the Bahamas, Irene peaked as a 120 mph (195 km/h) Category 3 hurricane.

 

Thereafter, the storm slowly leveled-off in intensity as it struck the Bahamas and then curved northward after passing east of Grand Bahama. Continuing to weaken, Irene was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on August 27, becoming the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Ike in 2008. Early on the following day, the storm re-emerged into the Atlantic from southeastern Virginia. Although Irene remained a hurricane over land, it weakened to a tropical storm while making yet another landfall in southeastern New Jersey on August 28. A few hours later, Irene made its ninth and final landfall in Brooklyn, New York City. Early on August 29, Irene transitioned into an extra-tropical cyclone near the Vermont/New Hampshire border, after remaining inland as a tropical cyclone for less than 12 hours.

 

Throughout its path, Irene caused widespread destruction and at least 56 deaths; Damage estimates throughout the United States are estimated near $15.6 billion, which made it the 5th costliest hurricane in United States history, only behind Hurricane Andrew of 1992, hurricanes Wilma and Katrina of 2005, and Hurricane Ike of 2008. In addition, monetary losses in the Caribbean were estimated to be as high as US$3.1 billion, plus another $260 million in Canada for a total estimate of nearly $19 billion in damage.

 

On August 17, TR East Coast was issued a warning order of the impending hurricane. Based on the proposed storm track, the possibility existed that the storm may impact some major population centers and cause significant loss of life, damage to critical utilities, massive flooding, and property damage.

 

Immediately, the Team Rubicon (TR) core team scheduled a conference to discuss not only the possibility of an alert of our East coast teams and a deployment, but also what

 

 

TR’s role may be in such an event. The decision was made between TR President Jake Wood, Vice President William McNulty, and East coast coordinator Matt Pelak to place multiple teams on alert and establish a roster of available volunteers.

 

Matt Pelak was established as the operation commander and was responsible for coordinating units operating on the East coast and relaying critical information up to HQ during the operation. The regional team leaders would report to Pelak, and the individual volunteers would be assigned a regional coordinator.

 

Within the individual teams, the following key roles were determined as mission essential: Team Leader, Assistant Team Leader, Team Medic, Logistics, Communications, Social Media/Photographer

 

The decision was also made to define the team’s scope of practice to ensure that no one operated outside of their individual level of training in addition to the team’s level of training. Primary mission objectives were established as follows:

 

  • Establish contact with local authorities and EOC to eliminate the possibility of freelancing and making sure that TR teams were integrated into the regional response and sent to the areas of greatest need.
  • Assist with operations as assigned and as appropriate based on team’s capability.
  • Safety of the team is paramount.
  • Conduct light search and rescue, basic first aid, debris removal, and assistance with resource management and communications.

 

Pelak then contacted the East coast regional coordinators Nicole Green, John Byrnes, JC McGreehan, Nelson Pabon, Pat Reilly, and Levi Briscoe from the Washington DC, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York City/New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts regions respectively. After making contact with the coordinators, the coordinators were then put in touch with their respective regional FEMA volunteer coordinator in order to get the individual teams into the “system” of volunteer organizations active during disasters or VOAD’s.

 

The coordinators were advised to contact their respective volunteers to establish a list of who was available to deploy to the effected areas if the need were to arise. To accomplish this, the coordinators utilized the Google Zoho CRM application, which holds the entire database of all TR volunteers in a searchable, organized format that our key leaders can access from anywhere with an Internet connection. Within 12 hours the teams had already started taking shape and each region had begun to report their team’s strength, capabilities, and duration of availability.

 

 

 


OPERATION OVERVIEW

 

OPERATION NAME: Green Mountain Boys
DURATION: 7 Days
DATES: August 30th, 2011 – September 4th, 2011
LOCATION: Hollywood, MD & Grafton, VT
OPERATION DIRECTIVE: Debris Clearing, Home Repair
ELEMENTS: 2 teams
TOTAL VOLUNTEERS: 20
     MILITARY VETERANS: 12

 

 

TOTAL CASH RAISED: $3,416
     LESS: CREDIT CARD FEES: n/a
NET: $3,416
EXPENSES:
     TRANSPORTATION: n/a
     EQUIPMENT: n/a
     FOOD: n/a
     LODGING: n/a
     AUTHORIZED CASH DISBURSEMENTS:
TOTAL: $2,920
NET OPERATION GAIN/ (LOSS) $496

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anaylsis

 

Intel Analysis

 

While the coordinators were assembling the teams and communicating with local agencies, a separate small team of analysts were gathering and evaluating information on the impending storm as it developed. One of the most beneficial was our team meteorologist Jeff Jumper, as he tracked the storms projected path and current strength and provided us with frequent updates. This allowed us to adjust the team’s posture and allow our volunteers a rough time of when we would need their assistance, and in turn letting them make arrangements with their full time jobs and other family obligations.

 

This information was also beneficial after Irene had passed through. By receiving a daily, professional weather report, the team could plan operations around foul weather.

 

Other important intelligence provided was data regarding road closures and mass transit shut downs. Many of our volunteers in urban areas depend on these means of transportation and this forced the team to make arrangements to car pool in the event of a mobilization.

 

Lesson learned:

 

Have a small dedicated team monitoring news sources and delivering reports to teams on a predetermined schedule. By having intel coming in from multiple sources at multiple times, the teams get confused as to what is accurate and timely. These teams should be part of a pre-determined pool of intel specialists that are familiar with our operations and capabilities.

 

Deployment

 

The first team to deploy was in the greater Washington DC area, when reports of a small tornado touching down were received. One of the TR volunteers who lives in close proximity, had responded in to investigate and found a neighborhood that had been struck very quickly and had multiple roads blocked in addition to trees down on houses. TR’s fist team deployed to Hollywood, MD, where a tornado had spun off the storm. TR’s second team deployed to Grafton, VT to help victims of the worst flooding in state history.

 

Communications

 

The primary means of communication for this operation were cell phone and e mail. All of the key leaders were in touch with each other on an hourly basis, although at times deployed teams were out of cell phone range due to storm damage. Unfortunately the team sat phones were either deployed with teams in Thailand or in storage units in New York that were out of range of team leaders. Also, due to lack of device commonality, some of the key staff do not have “smart phones” that have instant access to e-mail and internet which would have made communications more seamless.

 

A few times during the initial alert and assessment phase, some members had jumped the chain of command by e-mailing someone that was one or two levels above them. This caused confusion and fragmented the message being distributed by the operation commander. Key leaders need to reinforce how important following the chain of command is and how easy it is to cause confusion with a few rogue e-mails. At the same time, key leaders need to make sure the information is flowing both ways in order to eliminate others searching for information from other key leaders.

 

During operations in the field, there were several situations where a 2-way radio system would have been very beneficial. This has been a recurring problem and it is simply the lack of a cost effective solution that has prevented us from solving it.

 

Lessons learned:

 

  1. Locate sat phones within reach of team leaders and ensure redundancy of access.
  2. Possibly purchase “smart phones” or iPad type devices for team leaders, to improve access to email.
  3. Identify and purchase a cost effective 2-way radio platform and implement it TR wide.
  4. Stress the importance of the chain of command, especially when sending e-mails.