Extreme Weather and Emergency Preparedness
Dates: October 8-10, 2014
Location: Tom Ridge Environmental Center
Over three days in October, members of the Erie region’s professional and residential communities met to consider how prepared our community is for the extreme weather and other emergencies associated with climate change. This Second annual event is part of a broader effort to build hazard resiliency in the City of Erie and the surrounding region.
The 2014 Summit began the evening of October 8th with a screening of Extreme Realities, a documentary narrated by Matt Damon, which looks at the link between the extreme weather associated with climate change and geopolitical events. The film was followed by a brief audience discussion about how climate change impacts are being felt now and what they may mean for the Erie region and individual energy choices. Extreme realities thus helped set the state for the next two days of the summit.
Day two included a series of events designed to help homeowners and our community be better prepared for weather-related extremes. Thanks to our sponsors, each participating household received a “go-bag” containing some of the items that are recommended to have ready in case of emergency. The evening began with another documentary film, Green City, Clean Waters which highlighted efforts in residential communities around Philadelphia to manage urban stormwater runoff and thus improve water quality in local waterways.
Other speakers provided a historical look at extreme weather and flooding events in the Erie area; an overview of Erie County emergency management planning; and an introduction to the need for Mental Health First Aid to support both responders to and victims of disasters. Finally, Trish Lawrence of the Red Cross provided a keynote presentation on the importance of having a family plan to deal with emergencies.
Day three focused on the role of professionals in preparing for extreme weather events. The day began with a screening of Green City, Clean Waters and a post-film panel discussion of stormwater management techniques. Morning speakers covered topics such as localized weather events; Millcreek’s cutting edge “Storm Ready” program; and using architectural techniques to improve resiliency and energy efficiency. The luncheon keynote was given by Scott Graham of the National Red Cross. The final panel of the day included representatives from regional utilities like Penelec, National Fuel, and the Erie Water Authority, discussing steps each utility is taking to anticipate and mitigate the effects of extreme weather on their operations.