Emergency Action Planning



About EAPs

About EAPs

The Six Basic Elements of an EAP

This section lists and briefly examines why there is a need for the six basic elements of an EAP. The requirements of these elements are discussed in detail in the FEMA guidelines, which also present a recommended format for uniformity among EAPs.

1. Notification Flowchart. A notification flowchart shows who is to be notified, by whom, and in what priority. The information on the notification flowchart is necessary for the timely notification of persons responsible for taking emergency actions. Dam owners generally will rely on their county or municipal Emergency Management Director for help completing and updating the flowchart.

The notification flowchart should include individual names and position titles, office and home telephone numbers, alternative contacts, and means of communication, e.g., radio call numbers. The number of persons to be notified by each responsible individual on the notification flowchart should be governed by what other responsibilities the person has been assigned. It is usually recommended that any one individual not be responsible for contacting more than three or four other parties.

The North Carolina Dam Safety Program has posted how the first segment of a flow chart for a small dam might appear. FEMA has provided this sample of a flow chart for a larger dam.

EAPs also should include a list of residents and businesses that should be notified. Compiling this list will require coordination with Emergency Management Directors and also the county assessor’s office to identify owners of parcels within the inundation zone who need to be notified.

2. Emergency Detection, Evaluation, and Classification. Early detection and evaluation of events that trigger an emergency action are crucial. The establishment of procedures for reliable and timely classification of an emergency situation is imperative to ensure that the appropriate course of action is taken based on the urgency of the situation. It is better to activate the EAP while confirming the extent of the emergency than to wait for the emergency to occur.

3. Responsibilities. A determination of responsibility for EAP-related tasks must be made during the development of the plan. Dam owners are responsible for developing, maintaining, and implementing the EAP. State and local emergency management officials are responsible for warning and evacuation within affected areas. The EAP must clearly specify the dam owner’s responsibilities to ensure effective, timely action is taken should an emergency occur at the dam.

4. Preparedness. Preparedness actions are taken to moderate or alleviate the effects of a dam failure or operational spillway release and to facilitate response to emergencies. This section identifies actions to be taken before any emergency.

5. Inundation Maps. An inundation map should delineate the areas that would be flooded as a result of a dam failure. Inundation maps are used by the dam owner and emergency management officials to facilitate timely notification and evacuation of areas affected by a dam failure or flood condition. These maps greatly facilitate notification by graphically displaying flooded areas and showing travel times for wave front and flood peaks at critical locations.

6. Appendices. The appendices contain information that supports and supplements the material used in the development and maintenance of the EAP. The Appendices focus on important issues such as those that specifically address maintenance requirements for the EAP and dambreak investigations and analyses. This information may be directly applicable to the actions of the dam owner and possibly some of the emergency management parties, but may not be critical to the actions and activities of other parties during an actual emergency.

Coordination and Evacuation

It is vital that development of the EAP be coordinated with all entities, jurisdictions, and agencies that would be affected by a dam failure and/or flooding as a result of large operational releases, or that have statutory responsibilities for warning, evacuation, and post-flood actions. The finished product should be user friendly as it realistically takes into account each organization's capabilities and responsibilities.

Coordination with state and local emergency management officials in preparation of the EAP will enhance their confidence in the EAP and in the accuracy of its components. Coordination will provide opportunities for discussion and determination of the order in which public officials would be notified, backup personnel, alternate means of communication, and special procedures for nighttime, holidays, and weekends.

Evacuation planning and implementation are the responsibility of the state and local officials who are responsible for the safety of the public who live in areas that would be inundated by failure of a dam or flood releases. The dam owner should not usurp the responsibility of the local authorities responsible for evacuation. However, there may be situations where recreational facilities, campgrounds, or residences may be located below a dam where local authorities would not be able to issue a timely warning. In such cases, the dam owner should coordinate with local emergency management officials to determine who will warn these people and in what priority.