What is SOONERWARN?
Oklahoma’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (SOONERWARN) is the formalized system of “utilities helping utilities” with mutual aid during emergency situations. The project is designed to reduce bureaucratic red tape in times of emergency. The goal of SOONERWARN is to provide immediate relief for member utilities during times of emergencies. The purpose is to get personnel with the necessary tools and equipment that can both assess and assist the impacted water and wastewater system as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary until such time that a permanent solution to the devastation may be implemented. SOONERWARN will provide a network of “utilities helping utilities” as the best method for responding to the immediate water and wastewater damage caused by natural disasters. By combining a mutual aid network with security information collaborative, SOONERWARN will cover all aspects of both natural and man-made emergency assistance
Is Mutual Aid Established under Oklahoma Law?
The Oklahoma Mutual Aid Law (MAL) establishes a statewide mutual aid agreement between local jurisdictions, thereby eliminating the need for written mutual agreements. To fully utilize the MAL, on emergency should be declared by an incorporated or legal jurisdiction. This may be done at the discretion of the jurisdiction when available resources are not sufficient to meet an imminent need. All mutual aid is provided at the discretion of the providing jurisdiction. It should be noted that jurisdictions retain the option of providing mutual aid on a case by case basis. Private utilities are not included in the Oklahoma MAL, however those utilities are encouraged to join SOONERWARN. The SOONERWARN steering committee has provided a mutual aid agreement for private utilities which will help promote “utilities helping utilities” in time of emergency. The mutual aid agreement may also be used by jurisdictions in lieu of declaring an emergency to activate the MAL.
How did SOONERWARN get started?
Oklahoma is susceptible to a variety of natural and man-made hazards that threaten the safety and well-being of our communities, businesses and environment. The formation of SOONERWARN is driven by a nationwide preparedness initiative based on natural and human caused emergencies and awareness that utility operations are specialized. They must be self sufficient to fill the gap between when a disaster happens in the arrival of government aid. The initial warrant systems were developed in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana where hurricanes were the trigger for the development of the program. Concerns of public water utilities along with preparedness planning within EPA and FEMA determined every state can utilize in benefit from a born system since disasters can occur anywhere.
How does SOONERWARN work during an emergency?
Member utilities are able to request assistance through the SOONERWARN website. Since electricity is often out during an emergency, SOONERWARN administrators and steering committee members attempt to contact, using emergency contact information, all members in the area of the storm to determine their needs. Administrators may then post the need via text messaging, email or twitter. SOONERWARN is designed to get the correct resources to the appropriate location within the first hours or days of an event. SOONERWARN is designed to gear up without any notice using the webpage and personal contact information to respond to any man-made emergency or other disasters.