VDEM to work with county following storm

Published 6:00 am Friday, March 12, 2021

In response to last month’s ice storm, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will work with Charlotte County officials to develop an After Action Report and Improvement Plan (AAR/IP).

According to VDEM Chief Regional Coordinator Gene Stewart, the AAR/IP provides a basis for action items necessary for improving plans and building and sustaining emergency management capabilities.

Stewart addressed the Board of Supervisors Monday, March 8, telling them the plan would be provided free of charge to the county.

Stewart said VDEM would hold a series of meetings with those involved in the ice storm’s response efforts to get firsthand accounts of how events were handled.

According to Stewart, in response to the recent ice storms, a practical AAR/IP will include input from individuals outside of the Charlotte County organizational structure who played roles in the response. These include individuals from VDEM, employees from other agencies serving as members of an incident management team, and those representing volunteer organizations.

“We’ll talk with law enforcement, fire departments, and other organizations that helped with the efforts,” Stewart said.

According to Stewart, VDEM will determine the strengths and weaknesses and recommend corrective actions and a timeline following those meetings.

Both Supervisors Kay Pierantoni and Donna Fore expressed the need to have citizen input included in the AAR/IP.

“This is just from one supervisor’s perspective, but it seemed to me that we had a long time to start up the efforts, and then it seemed we might have had more that we needed,” Pierantoni said.

Pierantoni suggested allowing the public to speak and to hold open meetings during the AAR/IP process.

“The public is the ones that were really hurting,” she said.

Echoing Pierantoni’s suggestions, Fore said there were a lot of citizens who did extraordinary things during the storm recovery efforts, and that needed to be documented.

“What I saw that was so amazing was neighbors helping neighbors,” Fore said. “Their voices need to be heard. How do you capture that?”