Emergency Action Planning



About EAPS

About EAPs

An EAP is Thorough, Updated and Tested

An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is a plan of action to reduce potential property damage and loss of lives in an area affected by a dam failure. A summary of Missouri guidelines for emergency action planning, 'Dam and Reservoir Guidelines for Community and County Emergency Action Planning,' was developed to encourage thorough and consistent emergency action planning for levels of preparedness which may save lives and reduce property damage.

Evacuation Route sign photo

EAPs should contain:

  • Identification of an emergency
  • Preventive action
  • Notification and coordination
  • Hazard area delineation
  • Evacuation
  • Termination

The Guidelines note that:

"Methods for prediction and detection of a dam failure should be made available. The areas affected can be identified by inundation mapping prior to failure and are critical to development of notification and evacuation plans. EAPs must be tailored to specific dams and must be in sufficient detail to foresee all possible events.
"The complex legal and sociological aspects need to be addressed before the emergency. Actions and responsibilities need to be identified. EAP guidelines thus need to convey this message. It is important to remember that the level of planning should be consistent with the consequences of failure and the development downstream of the dam. Listing of conditions and events which could lead to an emergency condition is critical to a successful EAP.
"Also needed are methods available for early detection and assessment of dangerous conditions. If at all possible, the designation of someone responsible for evaluating the emergency should be made. A procedure needs to be provided so that persons able to delay or prevent the failure and to conduct the evacuation are notified. Communication and coordination with local and state officials and agencies must be identified.
"Training and periodic testing should be a part of the plan, and finally the plan should be reviewed and updated in a reasonable time period."

The guidelines are intended for public officials and private citizens who must plan for emergency situations involving real or potential dam or reservoir failures. City/county emergency management directors are urged to include such planning and anticipated response actions in their jurisdiction's comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), which should include the possibility of dam or water impoundment failure. The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) advocates the functional approach to emergency operations planning. This functional planning format spells out the Who, With What, and How of all critical emergency functions in time of disaster.

A Missouri PL-566 dam that may now be HHP
due to the residence below the dam.

Like an EOP, an EAP for a dam should establish procedures (duties, responsibilities and actions) for emergency response such as warning the public and other functions. Dam failures have unique considerations that require specific planning, such as the inundation mapping.

Further guidelines and templates for a thorough EAP are contained in the brochure FEMA 64: “Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety: Emergency Action Planning for Dam Owners” posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is another federal agency that has a major role in dam safety and emergency planning. Missouri has 600 dams that were built as small watershed projects under the 1953 Public Law 566, and most are getting old and in need of more frequent inspection and repair. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service works with sponsors/owners of these dams, many of which fall under state regulation. NRCS has created guidelines and templates for EAPs. A fact sheet on EAPs can be found at http://www.damsafety.org/media/Documents/EAP/EAPfactsheet.pdf. NRCS also has posted its own EAP form, which details a NRCS Directive that guides NRCS staff, dam owners, and emergency response authorities in completing an EAP. NRCS staff are available to help dam owners in preparing their EAP.