Becoming a Part of the Disaster in the Midst of Providing Support

In March of 2019, Nebraska and western Iowa experienced the costliest natural disaster in their documented history. NWS Omaha became a part of the disaster early on March 15 as a levee broke 5 miles from the office, sending flood waters toward the NWS. The levee breach and impending flash flood required a rapid 90-minute execution of the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and evacuation of the property. This was the first time in the history of NWS Omaha that the COOP was executed, and one of the only times in the past 20 years that an NWS office was evacuated on such short notice. NWS Hastings initiated service backup, and for the following week, NWS Omaha operations continued for the ongoing significant flood disaster out of three separate locations. Several key findings, best practices, and experiences from this event will be presented, as these may prove to be valuable knowledge for other meteorologists in future extreme events.

Rebecca Kern
NOAA/NWS Weather Forecast Office, Omaha, Nebraska

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