USDOT’s Crisis Management Center: Ready & Able 24/7/365
America’s transportation systems and infrastructure are fundamental to our nation’s security, safety and quality of life. That is why the Department’s Crisis Management Center (CMC) monitors America’s transportation systems and infrastructure 24-hours a day, every day. And that’s why I visited the CMC on my first day as Secretary of Transportation.
The CMC’s around-the-clock vigilance was instituted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The men and women staffing the CMC are key to enabling the Department to develop and execute timely, coordinated responses to support life safety missions and to assist in the restoration of transportation infrastructure.
The CMC, where the lights are always on, is prepared to ramp up operations at any moment. Most disasters happen with little or no warning but sometimes there is advance notice, such as during hurricane season. The 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons were particularly eventful. In 2017, the CMC operated at a heightened pace for two months in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The 2017 season produced six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5), including the first two major hurricanes to hit the continental U.S. in 12 years. In 2018, 15 named storms have so far formed over the Atlantic Ocean and eight strengthened into hurricanes. That exceeds the 1981-2010 annual average of 12 named storms and 6 hurricanes. Hurricanes Florence, Olivia, Isaac, Michael and Typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu kept the CMC intensely busy for weeks at a time.
The CMC is the focal point for the Department’s interagency liaison and coordination with other Federal operations and watch centers. It is staffed full-time with personnel from the Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response. The Department’s modes also have staff in the CMC, such as Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Emergency Coordinator, Alex Keenan. In major incidents, Alex is among the many unsung heroes working overtime to assist people in disaster areas as he works to make sure trucks can get through to provide emergency supplies and transport the goods needed to help people survive and recover.
The hurricane season officially ends November 30. But for a long time to come thousands of Americans will continue to suffer the hardship of rebuilding damaged homes and businesses and reordering lives disrupted by the destructive storms of 2018. We should also keep in our thoughts and prayers those who still struggle to rebound from the devastating 2017 hurricane season. And let’s applaud the dedicated men and women who do the noble work in the CMC of being prepared at a moment’s notice to mobilize help for our fellow citizens during a crisis.
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