Last month, Colorado and the central United States were hit with a “bomb cyclone” that brought blizzard conditions and hurricane-force winds in what’s now officially deemed Colorado’s strongest storm ever. As some parts of Colorado still work to recover from the storm, communities lucky enough to have seen winter melt into spring should take advantage of the post-winter weather to revisit or develop severe winter weather plans and reflect on lessons learned from the communities still recovering.
Like any disaster plan, severe snow events require frequent updates and clear lines of communication between stakeholders and to the public. When it comes to snow events, multiple platforms of communication are key to notifying residents of travel advisories, school closures, snow removal schedules, and more. IBTS suggests using a combination of social media, website updates, local news media outlets, and roadway signage. Read more tips on public communications during winter weather events to avoid common communication mishaps.
Providing information to the media is always easier when it’s good news, like roads being cleared quickly. To speed snow removal, have contracts in place for snow removal equipment before the snow hits and be sure to train your staff. Spring and summer are the perfect time to get these contracts squared away. Get more best practices for managing snow removal contracts here, and learn more about when and how to communicate road closures in Tips for Managing Roadways in Severe Winter Weather Events.
It’s also important to have documentation and recordkeeping systems in place that meet FEMA’s documentation requirements for severe winter weather events, which differ from FEMA’s other reimbursement programs. If your snow removal agency doesn’t document properly during the storm, it’s nearly impossible to backtrack and get the substantial level of detail FEMA requires.
For example, FEMA might only reimburse for expenses associated with clearing certain roadways for a specific time period, so it’s important to have a breakdown of equipment usage by time. IBTS suggests tracking equipment in 12-hour shifts to increase your likelihood of reimbursement. Want to get your documentation system in place today? See more tips about FEMA snow removal documentation requirements.
IBTS can help develop severe winter weather emergency plans, in addition to plans for any type of severe weather event, and can provide assistance navigating FEMA programs. Visit www.IBTS.org for more information, or leave us a message to request services.