SAN ANTONIO, Texas –
As the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane season approaches, U.S. Army North hosted more than 150 military and civilian partners who gathered in person and virtually for a Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept, or ROC, Drill at the Army Medical Department ROC Drill Facility at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston May 25.
“The individuals and organizations assembled here today have scores and scores and scores of experience during natural disasters,” said Lt. Gen. John R. Evans Jr., U.S. Army North commander. “With experts predicting increased storm activity this season, the scenario we will collectively work through represents a worst-case event in which Title 10 support is required.”
The primary purpose of the rehearsal was to prepare participants to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency — the lead federal agency for hurricane response — during the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins June 1. In addition to response and recovery-focused discussions, Evans also emphasized the importance of supporting the National Response Framework.
“We want to ensure if and when we move in to support state and federal agencies, we’re doing it in such a way that it’s congruent with solving problems," Evans said while speaking to the interagency audience.
Before working through the scenario, ROC drill participants heard remarks delivered by a variety of FEMA senior representatives, including Assistant Administrator for Field Operations, John Rabin, who is responsible for developing, maintaining, and deploying the agency’s disaster response workforce consisting of 13,000 personnel.
“The partnership with ARNORTH and NORTHCOM is one of the most critical ones that we rely on throughout the year, particularly hurricane season,” said Rabin. “Most important, they help us focus on lifesaving and life-sustaining operations that are really critical in the first 24 to 96 hours.”
The ROC drill scenario focused on exercising joint capabilities to support vital needs during two Category 4 hurricanes, and a Category 5 hurricane with multiple landfalls in Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“As we’ve talked to our stakeholders, our number one issue is supply chain,” said FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson, “We have to make sure our contracts and our resources are ready to go and we know what those supply chain issues are.”
The DOD has a long history of providing military support to civil authorities when requested by FEMA and approved by the Secretary of Defense. Since 2005, USARNORTH, as the Joint Force Land Component (JFLCC) for U.S. Northern Command, has supported more than 40 tropical storms and hurricanes including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Dorian.
“It’s constant planning for us, but we are one team. It doesn’t matter what federal agency we’re from,” said, FEMA Region 4 Administrator, Gracia Szczech. “We’ve learned that it’s never a single state event. We always have multistate events and that’s what we plan for.”
Colorado State University, which has forecast hurricanes since 1984, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, predicts “above-average” hurricane activity for this year. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the 2022 Atlantic seasonal outlook in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.
The annual hurricane season in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. This year’s storm names include Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Martin, Nicole, Owen, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie, and Walter.