FEMA calls Cass County’s flood response a “best practice” for nation

FARGO – A top official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Cass County’s efforts to protect residents and respond to emergencies during spring floods should be used as a model for the rest of the nation.

In a recent letter to Sheriff Paul Laney, Regional FEMA Administrator Robin Finegan offered high praises about the county’s emergency response capabilities and specifically about its Tactical Operations Center (TOC).

“I continue to be impressed by the measures you have put in place to meet the emergency needs of flood survivors,” Finegan wrote. “(FEMA) staff have commented a number of times on the innovative approach your center has implemented to ensure that the multi-faceted tactical operations are coordinated and effective.”

FEMA’s response operations staff will propose the Cass County TOC model as a “best practice” for implementation nationwide, Finegan said.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office, under Laney’s leadership, first organized the TOC during the historic 2009 flood.

National and state resources were brought in that year to assist local authorities in responding to a record-level flood of 40.84 feet on the Red River at Fargo.

The TOC has also been used to coordinate response efforts during the 2010 and 2011 spring floods.

The Cass County TOC is equipped with special GIS and communications technology, which allows law enforcement to respond faster when emergencies occur across the county.

For the past three years, state and federal partners have included the North Dakota National Guard, the state Highway Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the Fish & Wildlife Service.

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