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NETL Aids Hurricane Dorian Response Efforts

NETL employees were on hand to facilitate power restoration as Hurricane Dorian threatened the East Coast in recent weeks.

Three employees were deployed to regions expecting impacts from Dorian ahead of the hurricane’s arrival, while a fourth employee provided virtual assistance. All four employees contribute their time and expertise as part of the Emergency Support Function (ESF) #12 program, which aids the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the United States National Response Framework.

NETL supports ESF #12 by maintaining a team of regional coordinators who cover FEMA regions spanning 36 states in the continental United States, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The participating employees primarily belong to NETL’s Energy Technology Development Directorate, with one from the Energy Conversion Engineering Directorate. In response to Dorian, these four joined other officials at regional response coordination centers for FEMA Regions II, III and IV and state emergency operations centers in Florida and North Carolina, where they served as Energy Unit Leaders.

Region II includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Region IV encompasses eight southern states — including coastal Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Remote assistance was provided in Region III, spanning the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

NETL employees worked with federal agencies, state and local governments, and energy owners and operators to help coordinate grid restoration and stabilization. As regional coordinators for FEMA, they apply their energy expertise to assist key stakeholders by assessing needs to restore power, helping devise plans to overcome obstacles, monitoring restoration crews and assets, coordinating generator needs and supporting timelines for restoration.

In doing so, NETL staffers gathered critical information about the nation’s energy infrastructure and its insecurities to help guide future research and development of grid technologies. The knowledge they gained will inform ongoing work by DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, which administers the ESF #12 program through its Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration Division.

During the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, five NETL employees responded to four hurricanes, spending a total of more than 50 days away from home to help others recover from disastrous circumstances.

“These employees sacrifice valuable time with their families, friends and colleagues to tackle the challenging task of supporting the restoration of power for hurricane victims following damaging storms like Dorian,” NETL Director Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D., said. “I truly appreciate their dedicated efforts to ensure our nation’s security and prosperity by addressing urgent energy challenges for fellow Americans in need.”

The ESF #12 team supports NETL’s mission by fostering growth within the energy industry and using the lessons learned to inform their regular work — as project managers, researchers and scientists — to enhance the nation’s energy foundation for future generations.