As a highlight of National Preparedness Month, Governor Bob McDonnell announced today an important emergency planning milestone. For the first time since 2007, every Virginia county, city and town with an emergency management program has an emergency operations plan adopted by its elected governing board. The purpose of these plans is to protect citizens during disasters and emergencies.
"September is National Preparedness Month, and it is a fitting time for us to announce this important accomplishment," said Governor McDonnell. "Every local government with an emergency management program has a plan that has been thoroughly updated to cover the many emergencies that could happen in their communities. Even more importantly, these plans have been formally reviewed and adopted by local leaders. Local emergency operations plans govern how communities respond to and recover from disasters, so it is vital that the plans are updated regularly and understood by local first responders and leaders."
In 2007, the Code of Virginia was changed to require local governing bodies to formally adopt emergency operations plans every four years. Previously, no timeline was specified, so many plans had not been revised for several years. When the Code was changed, approximately 20 percent of local plans were not compliant. Some of the reasons for out-of-date plans include staff turnover at the local level and ongoing response to disasters. In 2011, Governor McDonnell challenged local governments to make all plans current.
To reach the goal, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management provided training, workshops and technical assistance to local emergency planners and leaders.
"The hard work by local emergency officials and elected leaders in updating these plans underscores Virginia's reputation as a leader in emergency preparedness, response and recovery," said Governor McDonnell. "I applaud the Department of Emergency Management for the leadership role it played in assisting localities review, revise and adopt their plans. Virginia has experienced a variety of weather events and natural disasters over the past few years, highlighting the importance of preparedness as well as response and recovery efforts. Our state and local agencies and first responders have met the challenges and continue to review procedures and policies to make improvements. I am pleased that Virginia's localities have risen to the challenge and completed all of the plans so that we have 100 percent compliance."