Mass Care

Oklahoma's Shelter in a Box Exercise

Oklahoma Disaster Task Force Sheltering Exercise

In 2005, Oklahoma sheltered about 1,500 Hurricane Katrina evacuees, and in 2008, Oklahoma City operated a shelter for Louisiana’s Hurricane Gustav evacuees. Realizing the need for an established protocol, Oklahoma’s Department of Emergency Management, Shreveport Bossier City Emergency Management, and Louisiana’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness initiated work in November 2008 on a cooperative plan for direct shelter support should an emergency prompt the need of resident evacuation from Louisiana into Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Disaster Task Force Shreveport Shelter Exercise, or “Shelter in a Box,” was a full-scale shelter exercise that took place June 15–16, 2010. The exercise was sponsored by Oklahoma’s Department of Emergency Management and funded through a grant provided by the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA).

The exercise tested certain aspects of the shelter plan, including transportation logistics, computerized identification systems, mass feeding, communications security questions, and feasibility of responder billeting plans. The event involved city, county, state, and federal participants and focused on response using the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

Members of the Oklahoma Shelter Team test the wristband check-in system during the recent exercise of the Shelter in a Box program in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Participants boarded chartered buses at predetermined locations and were taken to a distribution point, where they signed in and were given identification wristbands containing barcodes that included essential information about the participants. The participants were then taken to a shelter at Shreveport/Bosier City and stayed there for one night. The next day, they were returned to their respective pick-up locations.

A complete instruction manual was provided for the exercise, and an after-action report was completed later.

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EMAC's Benefits

  • Fast and Flexible Assistance
  • All Hazards - All Disciplines
  • Resources deploy through the state emergency management agencies of their respective states allowing for a coordinated deployment
  • Deployments are coordinated with the federal response to avoid duplication and overlap

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