Yesterday, I read that the Kansas Department of Emergency Management is having a campaign called “Zombie Preparedness Month” and the Governor is even going to sign a proclamation to that effect. While the idea of an actual zombie attack is obviously in jest, being ready for a disaster situation isn’t, and the state of Kansas is trying to capitalize on a current pop culture phenomenon — as well as Halloween — to bring awareness to disaster preparedness.
Although it wasn’t a zombie apocalypse, a cousin of mine and her family faced a scary experience in Dakota City when a tornado caused serious damage to her home on Aug. 31. As Nebraskans, we never know when the next blizzard, ice storm, tornado, severe thunderstorm, flood, fire, or even earthquake might occur. As Americans, we have no idea what threats to our security may be on the horizon. As people, we are susceptible to illness and injury.
Disaster preparedness or emergency preparedness is having a plan in place to keep going when faced with serious challenges to normal operation. Emergency preparedness is something NPPD is constantly working on. We recognize how important it is to our customers that the service we provide them is reliable and can be depended upon. To ensure this reliability, NPPD has emergency plans for everything from physical security at Cooper Nuclear Station to Avian Flu to an Emergency Restoration Plan for our high-voltage transmission, sub-transmission, and distribution systems.
Plans, though, are only part of the process. NPPD also conducts a variety of emergency preparedness activities throughout the year. These drills range from simple fire and tornado drills for employees to complex disaster scenarios at our power plants. Employees from all over the district practice and prepare for emergency events so that we can be ready for practically any eventuality. Large drills are often supported by state and local law enforcement and emergency preparedness personnel. NPPD studies lessons learned from incidents and natural disasters around the world so we can be better prepared. We also build redundancies into many aspects of our business — from transmission structures to network back-ups — to minimize failures when disaster strikes.
Nearly all of this occurs “behind the scenes,” so many of our customers might not be aware of our emergency preparedness activities. But even when the lights are on, NPPD is working to make sure they stay that way. And if the lights do go out, we have a plan in place to bring them back on as quickly as possible.
“Always there when you need us” means being ready no matter what the challenge might be. The next day after the tornado hit Dakota City, my cousin sent me a message asking that I thank NPPD’s linemen for working through the night to restore power to her neighborhood four hours earlier than expected.
I confess that I haven’t seen a single episode of “The Walking Dead,” so in the event of an actual Zombie Apocalypse I would be clueless. Maybe I had better get my hands on a copy of that plan from Kansas.