NATURAL DISASTERS

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It has been almost two years since Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in November 2012. The loss of power over a three week period affected millions of people during freezing temperatures highlighting the importance of emergency response planning and preparedness. Concerns arose over the ability of the government and utility companies to adequately prepare for and respond to the storm’s unprecedented impact. The east coast is not alone when it comes to dealing with devastating hurricanes. The state of Texas has also learned a great deal about emergency planning following the effects of Hurricane Ike. In 2009, Texas implemented a new and sophisticated Hurricane Response Plan. An important addition to the Texas plan allows pipeline company representatives, with proper identification, access into post-disaster areas to survey the condition of their facilities and identify any potential risks or hazards to the public. Natural disasters, like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can place pipelines at risk for leaks and disruption of service. Pipeline operators have specific provisions in their emergency response plans for natural disasters. These plans work best when practiced and exercised prior to an event. Government officials understand the importance of emergency response plans and procedures. Working together, public officials, emergency responders and pipeline companies should become completely familiar with procedures in preparation for a natural disaster. This partnership of planning and preparation will ensure not only the safety of the community, but also the environment. In this way, communities can be confident in their response to the inevitable force of Mother Nature.