Homeland IT staff supports agencies in first response to Isabel

As Hurricane Isabel bore down on the nation's capital last week, the Homeland Security Department's IT officials were preparing to keep their systems online.

Homeland CIO Steve Cooper, reached at his office Thursday morning, said, "We have got a couple of processes established. One involves activation of crisis action team, augmented with experts with appropriate subject matter expertise, in this case a hurricane."

Cooper said the team, or CAT, included hurricane experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The team'located at DHS' headquarters command center in Washington'was directed to monitor activity related to the storm and maintain contact with state and local emergency operations officials, Cooper said.

"In support of the CAT, we have a dedicated [IT] support team activated at the same time to ensure connectivity and equipment backup," Cooper said. The teams will stay in place until Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge and CAT director, Gen. Matthew Broderick, direct otherwise.

Cooper added that if there were a need he would work with team personallyin person, but he can use technology to operate from anywhere.

"In addition to this, FEMA has activated all its emergency operations personnel and centers because they are our lead directorate for an event like a hurricane," Cooper said.

"Their emergency operations centers and ours are connected," he added. "We have already completed [installing] secure communications to every state emergency operations center," so Homeland Security officials can maintain contact with state and local emergency officials in the path of the hurricane.

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