RD511 - 2017 Virginia Emergency Support Team Exercise Report - November 2017

Executive Summary:

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) conducted a seven-hour Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) functional exercise in conjunction with VDEM Regions 1, 2, 3 and 5, as well as 14 local jurisdictions. In addition to the VEST, most of the emergency support functions (ESFs) within the Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) participated in the exercise. The functional exercise was conducted at the VEOC, VDEM regional offices, and local county/city emergency operations centers (EOCs). The simulation cell was operated out of VDEM’s Trade Court Facility.

The functional exercise began at 8:30 a.m. and concluded at 3:30 p.m. The purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate the ability of the Commonwealth of Virginia, FEMA Region III, partner states, and private sector utility stakeholders to work in a coordinated response to a protracted power outage and cascading effects impacting all of FEMA Region III in accordance with the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (COVEOP) and Section 44-146 17:2 of the Code of Virginia, Military and Emergency laws, Annual Statewide Drill.

This was a FEMA Region III-led, scenario-driven functional exercise involving local, regional, state, and federal agencies as well as public and private partners. The scenario required coordination between various jurisdictions to deliver required capabilities to affected communities in the aftermath of a prolonged power outage, as a result from an extensive cyber and physical attack to the power infrastructure within FEMA Region III. By design, exercise play began three days after the initial incident. During exercise play, the date of the initial cyber-attack on the energy infrastructure was Sunday, July 23, 2017. The scenario included a follow-on physical attack on individual substations the next day (Monday, July 24). Exercise play began on day three of the event (Tuesday, July 25).

During the functional exercise, a very robust simulation cell allowed the exercise players to demonstrate their ability to use emergency operations plans, policies and procedures to respond to and recover from the cascading emergency incidents precipitated by the prolonged and extensive power outage.

Approximately 200 participants registered for the exercise. The functional exercise participants included VEST staff, including representatives from most all ESFs; Region 1, 2, 3 and 5 multi-agency coordination centers (MACCs); the counties of Amelia, Goochland, Nottoway, Powhatan, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Halifax, Lancaster, and Middlesex; and the Cities of Colonial Heights, Richmond, Chesapeake and Norfolk. Dominion Power was also an active participant in the exercise.

The evaluated National Preparedness Goal (NPG) Response Mission Area Core Capabilities chosen by the Exercise Planning Team consisted of the following:

• Operational Coordination
• Planning
• Situational Assessment
• Public Information and Warning