March 2020 – Vol.1

Governor, HSEM and DHHS Lead State’s Response to COVID 19

On March 13, Governor Christopher Sununu directed the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, to open the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the state’s response to the novel coronavirus disease 2019, officially named COVID-19.

“The State Emergency Operations Center is the coordinating hub for complex incident response in New Hampshire. The activation of the State Emergency Operations Center will augment the great work that the Department of Health and Human Services has and continues to do,” said Governor Christopher T. Sununu. “Recognizing that many experts say the response to COVID-19 is a marathon and not a sprint, utilizing the expertise of the State Emergency Operations Center will ensure the state is proactively coordinating all available resources to mitigate the threat and contain COVID-19 as best as possible.”

Additionally, the state’s Joint Information Center is open to support the coordination of timely, accurate and accessible public information.

All residents and visitors are reminded to follow the recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick and help prevent transmitting infections to others, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands; and,
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Per Emergency Order 17, citizens are asked to stay at home unless it is essential to go out (grocery store, medical appointments, etc) and practice social distancing to discourage the spread of COVID19.

The most up-to-date information is available at nh.gov/covid19.

Now Available: Spring Report of State Hydrology and Watershed Conditions

The New Hampshire Silver Jackets Team, a state-led team of state and federal agencies and programs, announces the 2020 Spring Report of State Hydrology and Watershed Conditions. Team members, including those from NHDES, United States Geological Survey, and the National Weather Service have worked together to compile information on the status of streamflows, groundwater conditions, lake levels, snowpack and flood potential heading into the spring snowmelt and runoff season. The report is designed to provide this important information to local emergency management directors and the public, in one place, so that they know how the spring runoff season may progress in terms of flood risk, enabling them to be better prepared.

The report also includes guidance for local officials and the public on factors to watch for as spring snowmelt proceeds, such as for ice jams, as well as web links to data and sites for additional information to consult as the spring season progresses. Information on the current status of flood mitigation programs, from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Office of Strategic Initiatives, is also included.

Municipal officials are especially encouraged to download a copy of the Spring Report of State Hydrology and Watershed Conditions .  Agency team members will monitor these conditions in the coming weeks as spring progresses, and are prepared to update this report in mid- to late-March if current predicted flood potential changes.

New Seabrook Station Emergency Planning Zone Brochure

In January, NextEra Energy released the new Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant brochure with emergency preparedness and response information for residents within the station’s Emergency Planning Zone.  The new design is a more modern and efficient way of sharing information with those residents.  The purpose of the brochure is to help families, visitors and businesses within the Seabrook Station Emergency Planning Zone have the information they need to react appropriately in the unlikely event of an emergency at the power plant.

Seabrook Station preparedness information is available online at ReadyNH.gov/rep.

Ride For the Fallen 7 Recognition

On Thursday, January 23rd members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club and the Ride for the Fallen 7 Foundation presented a hand-carved memorial flag to the Departments of Safety and Transportation. The presentation was in gratitude for the work done following the accident that killed seven motorcyclists in Randolph last June and the subsequent memorial ride.  Department of Safety Commissioner Robert Quinn and Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan accepted the hand-carved flag to memorialize the Fallen 7.  The wooden flag, etched with the names of the victims, will be proudly displayed at the Incident Planning and Operations Center.

The NH Department of Safety and all of its divisions, in partnership with the NH Department of Transportation, were instrumental not only in response to the tragic accident, but also with the coordination of the Ride for the Fallen 7 that followed.  The collaboration ensured the safety of over 4,500 riders and over 3,000 motorcycles that participated in the July 2019 ride from Laconia to Randolph.

2019 State Emergency Operations Plan Update

The 2019 NH State Emergency Operation Plan has been printed and distributed statewide to stakeholders.  In addition, the plan can be found on the HSEM website: https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/hsem/StateEmergencyOperationsPlan.html.

State Emergency Operations Center Spotlight

The State Emergency Operations Center transitioned from partial to full activation on March 24th as the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up to all hands on deck for this unprecedented outbreak. The SEOC is fully staffed to support those on the front lines, working tirelessly to procure needed supplies and support mechanisms for NH communities. In addition, the Joint Information Center (JIC) opened on March 10 to coordinate the state’s public messaging, handle all media inquiries, and support local communities with public information resources.

The IPOC campus now hosts multiple call centers to answer the concerns and questions of NH Citizens.  Some 2-1-1 (for COVID-19 related questions) and NH Employment Security calls are being routed through centers set up within the Smokey Bear campus.  HSEM also has the local liason call center to assist emergency response requests for NH’s 234 communities.

As the state response to this pandemic continues, HSEM and our partners remain committed to striving to provide whatever support is needed for all of NH’s communities to get back to health and normalcy.