URI Team Assists with RIEMA Hurricane Exercise

As tropical depression Cindy made land fall in Louisiana last week, Rhode Island emergency managers (EM’s) ran a training exercise using a powerful, fictitious storm called “Hurricane Rhody”. The storm was created by Isaac Ginis, Chris Kincaid, and David Ullman of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography and was based on historical data from Hurricane Carol of 1954 and Hurricane Ester from 1961. Peter Stempel (PhD 2018) of URI’s Marine Affairs Visualization Lab created 3D visualizations of the storm’s impacts to Rhode Island and Bobby Witkop (MAMA 2018) provided data through expert elicitation of facility managers.

As the fictitious storm made its way up the Atlantic seaboard, 120 Rhode Island EM’s braced for impact during the four day Federal Emergency Management Agency lead training. The training culminated with the real time emergency response exercise to Rhody. Emergency managers at the state and federal level manned their stations at Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency’s (RIEMA’s) headquarters in Cranston while local emergency managers worked from their respective emergency operations centers in Coventry, Westerly, Pawtucket, and Providence. These teams dealt with dozens of hazards triggered by the storm including the flooding of Gainer Dam, the overtopping of Fox Point Barrier, and generator failures at multiple hospitals. RIEMA’s training simulation lead, Stephen Conard, had this to say about the simulation, “It was a tough scenario. Hurricane Rhody presented many challenges that Rhode Island EMs have never faced including hazards from tornados and unprecedented storm surge inundation. However, our team successfully worked through the associated critical transportation, public information and warning issues throughout the gameplay.” As the 2017 hurricane season gets underway, Rhode island’s emergency manager’s will be more prepared because of this joint effort with URI.