Public works is one of the first responders on the scene when a disaster strikes. Public works professionals play a vital role in all phases of emergency management. They provide valuable input during the planning process, supply critical services during response and recovery operations, and help reduce the risk of future losses by serving as the community’s champion for mitigation projects.
President George W. Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5), Management of Domestic Incidents, in 2003, in which a public works response to emergencies and disasters is recognized as an absolute necessity, and the federal government is directed to include public works in all planning and response efforts
During response efforts, public works professionals perform essential services like clearing roadways, assessing damage, removing debris, restoring utilities, and managing emergency traffic. Public works employee also provide technical support to other responders, such as supplying water for fire suppression or equipment for search and rescue operations.
Public works plays a predominant role during the recovery period by continuing damage assessment, cleanup, and restoration of services. In the year following Hurricane Katrina, public infrastructure projects in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana totaled over $4.8 billion. In those states that year, public works officials completed 1.3 million housing inspections and removed nearly one hundred million cubic yards of debris -– enough to fill 20 Superdomes.
On average, 68 percent of the funding awarded by the Federal government for major disaster declarations each year is used for debris removal, roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings, and public utilities.
Before, during, and after an emergency, public works is the lifeline for the community.
From bridges to roadways, to maintenance and administrative support, the Peach County Department of Public Works is a multi-faceted agency working today for a better tomorrow.