Natural Disaster Preparation and Recovery Abstracts
Surviving Superstorm Sandy
Laura Graziano and Linelle Smith,
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Our presentation will include an intro of Jenkinson's Aquarium, brief description of Sandy, how our team responded, strategies to assess damage, strategies that provided initial support to the animal collection, progress mileposts and where we are today.
Disaster Prep and Recovery
at New York Aquarium
Wildlife Conservation Society
New York Aquarium
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On the night of October 29, 2012 the New York Aquarium experienced severe flooding from the unprecedented storm surge associated with Hurricane Sandy. In a matter of minutes all of the Aquarium's animal life support systems and electrical distribution equipment, located below ground, were flooded. Rushing storm water quickly engulfed the first floors of most of the Aquarium's exhibit and support buildings. Eighteen staff members, who remained on site throughout the harrowing storm and for the next week, were able to stabilize life support systems and save the collection of marine mammals, fish and invertebrates with very little loss. Disaster recovery efforts were immediately put into place to mitigate flood damage and restore critical infrastructure. In this presentation the disaster proportions, recovery efforts and the future of the New York Aquarium will be discussed, including the storm's effect on the staffs morale and wellbeing.
Disaster Challenges in
Aquatic Collection Management
Multi-Institution Collaborative Session
Life Support Systems, Water Quality and Biological Requirements
– Andy Aiken
Staffing and Resource Management
– Ken Yates
Facility Design Standards and Trends
– Greg Whittaker
– Kristine Grzenda
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Contingency planning is a prudent exercise for any business, but has become a necessity for zoological facilities in the wake of recent natural disasters, changing AZA accreditation standards and emerging USDA APHIS requirements. Aquatic collection managers face unique challenges in disaster planning with the complexities that living water systems introduce. Modern life support systems rely on technologically advanced components to maintain water quality parameters with more precision than those simple systems of the past. Under disaster conditions we must understand the basic biological requirements of our specimens and the living components of our lss to successfully bridge the gap until full electrical and communications support is restored. The incorporation of basic lss components within aquatic systems that don’t require significant power consumption or automation, and can serve as the sole source of support under adverse conditions is gaining.
Managing staff and resources before, during and after disasters strike is vital to the survival of collection specimens and the short term viability of a facility’s recovery. Living aquatic collections pose challenges that are more complex than most terrestrial collections. Providing for aquatic animals safety while continuing to maintain their captive ecosystem under adverse conditions requires knowledgeable staff with the tools to adjust operations immediately. Disaster ride-out and recovery staff must possess unique skills including diverse aquatic husbandry, plumbing, electrical, use of S.C.U.B.A., chemical water treatment, capture and restraint of aquatic specimens, and aquatic specimen transport.
Aquatic exhibit design plays a role in collection managers’ ability to respond to short term and longer term crisis situations. Using information from previous challenges allows us to be better prepared for future emergency operations. Infrastructure details including electrical supply grid protection, redundancy or flexibility in emergency power supplies, low energy emergency lss strategies, and provision of adequate access to lss and exhibit areas are all considerations that have come to light following real world experiences.
The long term recovery of aquatic facilities hinge on decisions that are made during and immediately after disasters strike. Providing for the short term survival of living specimens is generally considered a primary goal, but equally important are the choices that are made to protect equipment, resources and infrastructure that will be necessary to the organizations successful recovery. Aquatic system operations can be dramatically affected by how remediation measures are performed and understanding not only the biological implications, but also the mechanical and material nuances is important.
This presentation brings together several distinct aspects of contingency planning, preparation, ride-out and recovery with a focus on those challenges that are unique to aquatic collection management.