After the tornado in Washington, IL help was pouring into this small town from all over the country. The Red Cross was at the local church helping organize and distribute donations. All the major insurance carriers were there with mobile response units to help their clients, and contractors poured in from around the country to help with debris clean up and rebuilding. Tree Removal companies, utility companies , Temporary Repair and the National Guard are typically the first on the scene. These past years we have seen another entity show up with the first round of the calvary, Homeland Security.
Homeland Security is not there to stop terrorist threats, but to help document everything going during the total confusion after such a large national disaster. In the case of the Washington, IL tornado they had a heavy duty motorhome style truck show up at the entrance to town, and park in lot of a major grocery store chain. It was broadcasted all over the radio and in the newspapers to citizens that they should not have dealings with anyone unless their vehicle had the green form distributed by Homeland Security.
Temporary Repair arrived in Washington with our team of military veterans to tarp roofs and prevent additional damage from rain or in this case snow. We came into town and got in line to meet with the guards at Homeland Security and receive our green forms. We waited in line with the other first responders for about two hours. When we came up to the truck, our manager went inside and met with the guards. They requested our business name, address, contact phone numbers, license plate numbers and asked us to report the number of people and trucks we had in town. They then issued us the green forms for all of our trucks.
The green form was a photocopied simple 4 line form that was just printed on plain stock green paper. This could be easily made by a 5th grader. I joked with the guards that the form was as secure as the new $100 bill. They laughed, but then enlightened me on the value of the data.
By taking this data they are better able to understand the amount and type of people coming into a community after a natural disaster. If there are any problems in the months and weeks to come they have contact names, they also have data to give back to FEMA and other government organizations to plan for future storms, so they can properly staff and assist citizens.
It is interesting to know where our tax dollars are going, and the how far the hand of Homeland Security extends. After over 15 years of natural disaster emergency response, I agree that collecting and organizing this data will be highly useful in making plans for the future.