As disaster strikes down south, NH volunteers sought for FEMA storm recovery
CONCORD— The state of New Hampshire is stepping up its response to communities hit by the recent one-two punch of late summer hurricanes through a federal response program.
Perry Plummer, the state's director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said resources are already in place but more may soon head to states affected by Harvey and Irma.
Emergency Management Assistance Compact is a mutual aid agreement between states that allows them to share skilled responders and get reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We're responding to hundreds of EMAC requests based on skillsets and putting them out to agencies that might be able to meet those needs," Plummer said Tuesday. "That is a state-to-state assignment and the requesting state pays for our state for the expenses of those resources and then gets reimbursed by FEMA," he said.
Plummer said the state also is gathering a list of state and municipal volunteer employees with special skills who are willing to step up for a monthlong deployment to a site in one of three southern states calling for help.
"The state or their employer has to release them for the 30 days. They're still an employee of the municipality or the state, they're just assigned to FEMA for 30 days," Plummer said. "Then FEMA reimburses the state or municipality for those expenses."
Plummer said public safety skills are of particular interest at this point in the joint response, as well as administrative and financial.
"There's a whole host of skillsets that they need to try to manage the recovery of this event," he said.
Plummer said it is up to FEMA where people will be deployed, but there have been requests for help from Texas, Florida and Georgia.
He said as the states move into a "recovery mode," one of the struggles is getting paperwork done so they can start getting assistance from the federal government.
"Right now we're gathering all the names of volunteers," Plummer said. "We're working out a FEMA agreement to the municipalities so we can make sure that money flows correctly."
New Hampshire has sent help in previous emergency situations.
"We sent people to Katrina including Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. I know that our state troopers were deployed down to Sandy for a period of time," Plummer said. "This is not uncommon.
"This is a national system. We've learned a lot since Katrina. If you look at how they were deployed during Katrina, that was really chaotic. This has been very organized. It seems like the system is working from at least our side of it."
The process will take about a week, Plummer said, to get people deployed and set up on-site logistics.
And for people who would like to help, Department of Safety spokesman Michael Todd said to check online.
"The communities in need have told us what they want," Todd said. "If you go to the readynh.gov website you can click on the links that are there. They'll take you to our Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey Harvey webpage. From there, you can go through and see who is asking for what and you can put in what skillsets you have, what your timeline is like and what materials you have to offer. The local charities will reach out to you and let you know how best you can help."
Plummer said the system put in place helps during a time of need.
"This national system is really important because no one jurisdiction can handle a disaster of this magnitude," PLummer said. "We all have to come together. We all have to give a little bit, help the jurisdiction in need and get those people back on their feet."