June 2020 – Vol. 2
COVID-19 Pandemic Response Update
The State Emergency Operations Center remains at a full activation since March 23, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This activation, unprecedented in its scope, scale and length, is the first full activation since the 2008 ice storm. The State’s response is a team effort led by Unified Command including representation from the NH Department of Health and Human Services, the NH Department of Safety, and the NH Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services.
The State Emergency Operations Center is open Monday through Friday from 8am until 4pm.
June 30th marked 100 days of activation for the NH Joint Information Center in response to COVID-19 and July 6th marked 100 days for the State Emergency Operations Center. Personnel from many state and partner agencies have been working in both the JIC and SEOC to support the state’s response to COVID-19.
NH Joint Information Center
On March 9th, Governor Sununu activated the NH Joint Information Center to support the coordination of timely, accurate and accessible public information in the state’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
In order to streamline and coordinate communications, the Joint Information Center handles media inquiries for all state agencies related to COVID-19, which includes state-level response inquiries and interview requests. The Joint Information Center brings together public information resources from NH state agencies and provides a single point of contact for media inquiries.
At the height of the response, the Joint Information Center handled 124 inquiries in a single day and was staffed by 15 positions. The Joint Information Center continues to respond to inquiries from media outlets around the country. To date, the Joint Information Center has received more than 2,850 inquiries and managed 44 press conferences.
The NH Joint Information Center can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (603) 223-6169. The JIC is open Monday through Friday, 8am to 4pm.
Personal Protective Equipment
The largest challenge during the course of the pandemic response has been the acquisition and distribution of PPE. N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, gowns…all of the tools first responders and medical staff need to protect themselves from the virus have been in critically short supply. As demand and competition for the supplies ramped up, New Hampshire fashioned a unique path to procure PPE. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, used his business connections in China to procure tons of PPE. Working in partnership with the state, which guaranteed covering the costs of the equipment, the first shipment arrived in Manchester aboard an MD-11 Fed Ex Freight plane on April 12th.
Since then, seven chartered flights to NH have helped to keep our frontline workers geared-up with the much-needed supplies as the COVID response continues.
The State Emergency Operations Center, in partnership with the NH National Guard and the NH Civil Air Patrol, manages the coordination and distribution of the PPE, from unloading the planes to sorting and distributing across the state.
The Public Assistance (PA) Program in NH has seen a record number of disasters over the past 3 years. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state was actively recovering from five natural disasters (four floods and one major snowstorm). The COVID-19 disaster (DR 4516) has proven to be the largest disaster for not only NH, but also the nation as a whole. It is the first time that a nationwide disaster declaration has been made in the FEMA PA Program. This resulted in a rapid shift from a FEMA led event to an applicant driven one. In order to ensure the level of customer service that our communities and partners in NH have come to rely on, HSEM made the swift decision to implement a State Led version of the PA Program.
So far, there are more than 240 applicants under the COVID-19 disaster alone, and this number is growing. The PA staff are dedicated to helping the applicants navigate the FEMA PA program in this unprecedented pandemic while balancing legacy disasters and ensuring that recovery from our natural disasters continues to move forward.
NH Don’t Go Viral Campaign
On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, Governor Sununu announced the release of the NH Don’t Go Viral campaign. Don’t Go Viral is a State of New Hampshire public service campaign to stop the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging people to wear masks whenever they are in public.
Free campaign materials and information, including posters and social media images, are available for download at visitnh.gov.
An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.
The state statistically sees a land-falling hurricane once every 30 years. The last Tropical Storm Warning issued for New Hampshire was Irene in 2011; the last Hurricane Warning for New Hampshire was Bob back in 1991.
“As with every hurricane season, the need to be prepared is critically important this year,” said NH Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jennifer Harper. “It is important to understand that it only takes one hurricane or tropical storm to severely impact an area. Natural disasters do not wait. Take time now to prepare your family.”
The core steps to preparedness are simple:
- Build an Emergency Kit.
- Have a Family Emergency Plan.
- Stay informed –Sign up for NH Alerts.
NH Drought Management Team
On July 8, 2020, Governor Sununu announced that New Hampshire’s Drought Management Team (DMT) will convene for the first time this year. The State Drought Management Plan requires the DMT to be assembled when the drought level reached “moderate” (D1), which occurred on June 25th. The last droughts the DMT was activated for occurred in 2018 and 2016, which reached “exceptional drought D4” in some parts of the state.
In New Hampshire, drought response efforts are coordinated through the DMT, comprised of stakeholders representing specific activities or interests that can be impacted by drought and representatives from relevant state and federal agencies. The N.H. Department of Environmental Services is the lead agency for the DMT. The DMT is responsible for many drought-related coordination activities, including assessing drought and water supply conditions and impacts, identifying additional drought and water supply assessment needs, and activating the Drought Response Plan. In general, drought response includes communicating drought status and impacts to the public; providing drought guidance to the public and impacted stakeholders; identifying available resources to help mitigate the drought and drought impacts; modifying operations of state and federally owned dams; and providing technical assistance. If the severity of a drought warrants escalated action, the DMT may assess the data needed for the Governor to request a Presidential Disaster Declaration or USDA Secretarial Declaration and may request activation of the N.H. State Emergency Operations Center.
Learn more about the Drought Management Program at the NH Department of Environmental Services website.
EMD Resource Templates
The HSEM Community Outreach Office developed and published EMD Resource Template toolkits for use by EMDs across NH. Each toolkit includes instructions, press release templates, talking points, and graphics/images for use on social media. Some of the graphics are even customizable so you can include your own message and logo.
The following EMD Resource Templates are available for download from the HSEM Resource Center:
- Blackouts and Power Outages
- COVID-19 Signage
- Extreme Heat
Additional templates, include flood and general preparedness, are being developed. If you have a recommendation or specific request, please contact your HSEM Field Representative or the Community Outreach Office.
NH COVID-19: nh.gov/covid19
NH HSEM: nh.gov/hsem
NH Safer at Home: covidguidance.nh.gov