The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Contingency Plans

Reference Number: MTAS-517
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: January 31, 2009

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Disaster Contingency Plans
Contingency plans should be detailed and instructive, and address the specific needs of every office of city government. They should anticipate the various types of disasters your city might face. Response to a flood will be different from response to a fire, earthquake or tornado. In addition to officials and staff having copies of the plan, duplicates should be stored off site in case of disasters of truly catastrophic proportions. The best recovery plan is no good if the only copy is locked inside a file cabinet in an office that is on fire.

A good disaster contingency plan will:

  • Designate who is in charge of recovery operations and who will be working on recovery teams. It should include all necessary information for contacting these people at any hour of the day or night;
  • Anticipate the types of disaster the city may face and provide basic instructions for the first responders to an emergency to ensure that everything possible is done to minimize damage and preserve the safety of individuals responding to the disaster (e.g., evacuation plans, directions for shutting off electrical current in case of a flood, locations of shut-off valves in case of a broken water line);
  • Include an inventory of supplies and equipment that are available for use in salvage efforts. The inventory should identify locations of important supplies and equipment — everything from heavy machinery to fire extinguishers to mops and buckets;
  • Identify alternative office space and other facilities that might be used if the city needs temporary space for relocation or salvage operations;
  • Include current contact information for experts in emergency management such as those at the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other governmental entities, plus commercial entities that can provide expertise in recovery and salvage if the disaster is too large for the city to handle by itself; and
  • Plan for acquiring replacement office equipment and supplies quickly and efficiently. This will be essential if computer equipment is damaged.
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