By Kim Kern and Noelle Richard
Evan Brassard, the new Emergency Management Director (EMD) of the town of Monson, has been working nonstop at rebuilding the community since the June 1 tornado destroyed the town.
Brassard spends roughly 10 hours a week working to ensure a better response plan for future disasters and coordinating responders to finding the proper resources they need. However, with meetings, trainings and events, the time he spends could lengthen. He receives an annual stipend of $1,500.
“It may not seem like a lot,” said Brassard. “But with a wedding this year, my masters, a new home, and a full time job, it can be tough to find the time.”
Although it is more time than he anticipated, he is glad he took the job.
Brassard was appointed on Aug 23, more than two months after the June 1 tornado and he has spent a good deal of time evaluating how town officials responded.
“Our response personnel could have spent more time doing what they do best, responding to the incident at hand,” said Brassard. “The EMD could have coordinated critical resources while the Incident Commander and supporting personnel focused on response.”
“It’s Monson, nobody thinks of a tornado. It’s not like our typical natural disaster that we see up here."
Recently, Brassard put together the After Action Report/Improvement Plan for Monson. The report analyzes the strengths of the town, areas for improvement, and strategies to go about implementing the plan.
“There are three big sections that pop out,” said Brassard. “One is communication, one is a lack of training, and one is a framework of employees to handle a situation of that magnitude.”
“Evan is great. I am really excited about the plan,” said Karen King, founder of Street Angels. “We have learned from this experience and we are going to be moving on. It’s like, we put it on the table, everybody had their opinion on what it was and now we are making an action plan and Evan is super about that.”
Monson’s response to both Hurrican Irene and the freak Nor’easter last October was more organized. It was evident that the lessons learned during the tornado were put into action and that everyone better understood their roles, said Brassard.
“He is focused and we just want to make sure that we are ready, we are going to hit the ground running next time,” said King.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meets every two months to strategize on how to implement the After Action Improvement Plan. The committee is made up of town officials and government working to make progress in the preparedness and response.
The LEPC has made strides in revising the emergency plan and response manuals and have also added positions that, had they been filled during the tornado, would have made the response more flawless, said Brassard.
The LEPC has also been collaborating with the town departments who were not involved during the response pre-tornado; who can now be seen as vital to future endeavors said Brassard.
The town of Monson is planning a practice disaster drill, hopefully by the end of summer.
“I like it that we are all moving forward,” said Karen King. “Evan has got all the players in town, transportation people, everybody in there that he needs to and we are diligently working on this plan.”
Photo: Courtesy of Evan Brassard
Kim Kern can be reached at email@example.com, or on twitter @kernkimberly.
Noelle Richard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @noellejrich.
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About the authors
Students in Steve Fox's Investigative Journalism & the Web class at UMass-Amherst have teamed up with the Globe to take a close-up look at the painful process of rebuilding from the June 2011 tornadoes that killed four and devastated communities in the Springfield area. Their work will also appear in the Boston Globe. Steve joined the journalism faculty at UMass-Amherst in 2007 and has 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at The Washington Post's award-winning website.