Operation Saw Humbug – Columbia, Marion County, MS
Prepared by: Bob Obernier, Regional Administrator
Completed: January 20, 2015
Operation Data Overview:
Operation # TR14030
Dates 12/26/2014 to 01/05/2015
Duration 11 Days
Location Columbia, MS
AL, ARK, CA, FL, GA, LA, MS,
NC, SC, TN, TX
Total TR Volunteers 37
Total Vol. Hours 2676
# Veterans 34
# First Responders 2
Total Assessments 115
Total Work Orders Gathered 24
Total Work Orders Completed 16
Total Non-TR Vols. Managed 50
Total CuYd Debris Moved 451.9
Other Metrics N/A
Other Metrics N/A
Total Accidents/Incidents 0
Government • N/A
NGOs/VOADs • Columbia Strong
- Volunteer Mississippi
- First Response of America
Partners • ARC
- Home Depot
Summary of Events:
Anticipation and Response: On the afternoon of December 23, 2014, an EF3 tornado struck the City of Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi. Over 50 people were injured and 4 killed. Extensive damage to both residential & business areas was reported. Upon receipt of initial media reports, the R4 Mission Planning Team (MPT) went to work on Initial Situation Report (ISR) development and Warning Order (WARNO) preparation. A Recon element was approved & dispatched as soon as the ISR was complete. On December 25, an Operations Order (OPORD) was approved and volunteers within Regions IV and VI were dispatched. By December 26, enough volunteers were onsite to begin damage assessment operations.
Operations: On December 26, Team Rubicon (TR) Incident Command was established with 2 leadership mentor’s onsite. The local organization designated to run NGO disaster relief coordination was Columbia Strong. TR was requested to assist them in tracking assessments & work orders. The local emergency manager was not in contact with any NGO’s during our deployment. Assessment & Strike Teams were formed as spontaneous volunteers and NGOs arrived. Strike Teams served in a multifunctional capacity, conducting sawyer, tarping, and demolition services. TR coordinated with another NGO that had heavy equipment capabilities to support demolitions. During this deployment, several Command & General Staff positions were trained/mentored and basic sawyer instruction was provided. After two days of Columbia Strong attempting to coordinate disaster relief & the volunteer reception center (VRC), we were able to guide them in using our tech capabilities and assist them in coordination. TR made contact with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Volunteer Agency Liaison (VAL) and assisted them with data collection requests.
Stabilization and Transition:Starting on January 3, pending work orders were submitted to Columbia Strong for tasking. Equipment received final cleaning and maintenance. TR Trailers were re-packed and prepared for demobilization. A TR Handoff Packet was submitted and all pending data was submitted to Columbia Strong. All personnel and resources were demobilized from the scene by January 5, 2015.
• Maintained staffing limit during holiday season deployment.
• Assisted Columbia Strong establish assessment & work order processing. TR acted as an IMT Mentor for this organization.
• R4 Leadership was able to train & evaluate volunteers in Incident Management, Command & General Staff position function.
Key Lessons Learned:
• Review of OpOrd by all Command & General Staff during initial briefing at ICP. Incorporate this in IMT training module. • When assigning Command & General Staff positions to volunteers with no previous experience, recommend shadow type training initially. IMT should address this.
• Not having any local Emergency Management involvement was a challenge. A NGO, Columbia Strong, was formed by local residence with no formal training. This would have been a prime example for use of the IMT.
Title Box Operational Folder
Description Access to the Box Operational Folder was not allowed to key staff, DA’s & other RA’s at launch of operation. Also, edit rights were sketchy at best in the beginning.
Recommended Solution Routinely add all DA’s & other RA’s to ‘View’ Only when Operational Folder is created at launch of operation. Overall Editing & Ownership should be granted to all Mentors, Command & General Staff when they are identified in OpOrd.
Title Box Folder & Spreadsheets.
Description Box & Spreadsheets don’t work together. Personnel & Finance Tracker had to be placed in Google Drive and link was sent to Box Operational Folder.
Recommended Solution Improve information management processes and system integration. Investigate different way of housing tracker tools. Investigate potential plug-ins that facilitate real time collaboration in Box.
Title Recon Team Tasking
Description Recon Team not well versed on needs for OpOrd, TR capabilities and needed contacts in AO. Although this was coached via phone & Blue Jeans calls, there was still a deficiency noted. More times than not, we rely on local TR volunteers, with little or no deployment experience to gather intel.
Recommended Solution A precise & up to date Recon Team check list, to include local governmental & NGO contacts. I believe this is being worked on.
Title Anticipation Phase Length
Description The MPT for R4 did an outstanding job gathering intel for this operation and the turnaround from ISR to OpOrd was as fast as I have seen in a while. However, there is still a 48 – 56 hour time gap from incident to dispatch of volunteers that in my opinion we need to work on closing.
Recommended Solution Look at abbreviating planning process for smaller operations or improving team efficiency