Charlotte Water Employee Spotlight: Tommy Wendelgass

Security Team Members: Vic Simpson, Tommy Wendelgass, and Sean Price.

As many of us know, even during times of crisis the show must go on. Being that we provide a vital service to our community, we are thankful to have members of our staff who are looking out for us behind the scenes to make sure that our operations and central functions can continue to run smoothly, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Our Security Team

This week, Emergency Planner, Tommy Wendelgass shared some of his important work over the past several months. As a member of our security team, Tommy has been working at our Emergency Operations Center since the pandemic began, and has worked closely with our Incident Command team. The focus of his role has been to ensure that the Incident Command maintains its structure and runs smoothly. Another large part of Tommy’s role is also to make sure that we have plans in place in case of an emergency, and that we make sure those plans stay up-to-date and relevant.

Over the past several months, Tommy has been working to update our three main preparedness plans – the Emergency Operations Plan, the Continuity of Operations Plan, and the Site Emergency Action Plans. Each of these plans is designed to prepare our utility to still function and operate during an emergency. Tommy shared about the importance and functionality of each of these different emergency plans.

Emergency Operations Plan

This plan establishes a departmental framework that enables a systematic, coordinated, and effective response to emergencies and disasters that may impact our system. This plan utilizes an all-hazards approach and incorporates the national preparedness guidance as outlined in Presidential Policy Directive 8, and is consistent with the National Incident Management System.

Continuity of Operations Plan

This plan was updated under guidance from the City of Charlotte Risk Management Department. The COOP establishes procedures to maintain continuity of operations and documents necessary actions and responsibilities for continuing mission essential functions whenever Charlotte Water leadership becomes incapacitated or whenever facilities/operations become inoperable. 

Site Emergency Action Plans

Charlotte Water has developed Site Emergency Action Plans (EAP) at the Laboratory, Administration, and Zone Operation Facilities. The purpose of the EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. Emergency plans and proper employee training (such that employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the plan) will result in fewer and less severe employee injuries and less structural damage to the facility during emergencies.

Mutual Aid Network

Another important aspect of Tommy and the security team’s work, is working with the mutual aid network known as the North Carolina Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (NCWaterWARN).

This network is a collective of utilities throughout North Carolina that are committed to helping each other conduct emergency response and recovery operations. WARN provides a system of aid that may be utilized by water and wastewater utilities requiring emergency assistance from member utilities. Charlotte Water can utilize WARN by requesting personnel, emergency equipment, materials and other required resources. If a natural, man-made, or technological event were to cause a significant staffing/operation loss, Charlotte Water could mitigate the threat, and continue mission essential functions, by utilizing NCWaterWARN. Our Deputy Director, Shawn Coffman is the current chair of NCWaterWARN.

In addition, if there are vulnerabilities during an emergency that WARN cannot fulfill, we can utilize the County Emergency Management resources as well as the State Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

Comfort During Uncertain Times

During these uncertain times, it is critical and also very reassuring to have these stable security measures and emergency preparedness procedures in place. We are thankful for the work of Tommy and our security team for working hard each day to make sure these procedures are effective and up to date, so that we can be prepared for anything that comes or way.

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