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23 CHAPTER 3 Case Studies 1. Airports Helping Airports Following this disaster in 2004, airports in this area of the United States recognized the need for airports to come to the The following information is taken from several interviews aid of one another, due to the uniqueness of the airport indus- and documentation provided by the airports involved with, or try, following a natural disaster. The other airports have the that have been the recipient of the airports mutual aid plan needed equipment, skilled personnel, and ability to restore the from the Southeast (SEADOG) and the Western United States operations in a time when normal operations are desired. (WESTDOG). SEADOG has been initiated since this first usage of "airport Natural disasters in the United States were at an all-time mutual aid." high in 20042005; several hurricanes took aim at the south- The southeast portion of the United States is the target of eastern United States, and a group was started to provide tech- hurricane season on an annual basis; this group (SEADOG) nical aid in restoring airports' normal operations. Hurricanes has been enacted several times since 2004. Each time, the logis- struck several coastal and inland cities, and while there was tics become refined, and there are lessons learned and put warning that these storms were to make landfall, no one ever into practice for the next activation of the group. The group is really knows what the exact amount of damage will be, or what informal in nature, and airports that participate do it on a vol- the recovery efforts will entail. untary basis, as there is no formal structure in place. The FAA, The following is an example of "airport mutual aid"; for the purpose of anonymity, "airport A" and "airport B" will replace TSA, and parts of FEMA have recognized its existence; the the actual names of airports discussed in the following example: group also has yearly meetings to further develop the program. As a hurricane approached airport A in 2004, airport B The western United States airports have formed a similar offered assistance; and, as the storm made landfall, airport mutual aid group since 2007. WESTDOG was formed to offer B's personnel and equipment were staged well in advance to assistance in times of natural or man-made disasters. Like other be in position to help airport A return to normal operations. mutual aid organizations, the participation is voluntary. Following the disaster, there were well over two dozen person- As part of the WESTDOG plan, there are four central ele- nel on site representing seven different southeastern airports ments at its core: in the United States. The director from airport A cited the following benefits to 1. Airports are critical infrastructure and play vital roles in this "airport mutual aid": area recovery from large scale disasters. 2. Individual airports have limited capacity and personnel 1. The workers that came to their aid were experienced "airport to recover from catastrophic events, and will be in need personnel" that were very familiar with the dynamics of an of highly skilled and specialized employees that may not airport environment. be able to respond to their particular airport. 2. The process allowed contact with the outside world during 3. Airport operations are highly specialized; therefore, the cre- a feeling of isolation. ation of "airport centric" skills and resources is desirable. 3. The mutual aid workers made it possible for airport A's 4. This system will harmonize with existing local mutual personnel to tend to their own personal/family situations. aid agreements under the National Incident Management 4. Employees of airport A could focus on getting back to nor- System (NIMS) plan. mal operations with the additional personnel, supplies, and equipment brought into the airport, as work may serve These factors lay the foundation for airports to become as a coping strategy. involved with "airport mutual aid." There is sometimes little