Officials call on Robertson to assist with flood response

· 3 min read

Officials call on Robertson to assist with flood response

(Photo by Tammy Real-McKeighan, Fremont Tribune) Floodwaters fill an intersection in Fremont earlier this month. Student journalists from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications will travel this weekend to report on the flood response in Fremont
Floodwaters fill an intersection in Fremont in March. Nebraska's Mark Robertson was part of a four-person team called in to assist with the flooding response in Dodge County.

With floodwaters surging through Dodge County, Nebraska’s Mark Robertson was part of a small team guiding emergency response efforts in Fremont and nearby communities.

An emergency management coordinator for the University of Nebraska–Lincoln police department, Robertson was part of a four-person emergency response team called into action by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. Providing expertise while also allowing community leaders an opportunity to rest, the team worked four 16-plus-hour days, from March 17-21.

“We were there to provide the community an assist,” Robertson said. “Our goal was to support the implementation of a national incident management system that helps communities best organize emergency responses. It’s basically a system that can help communities get and stay ahead of the situation.”

Mark Robertson leads a briefing as part of the flooding response in Fremont.

As the plans section chief, Robertson’s task was to create and update daily incident action plans and track resources available to assist recovery efforts. In the role, he served primarily as part of the emergency operations center team, facilitating meetings, building plans for the following day, setting objectives, identifying best tactics to implement, and planning briefings.

“Our team spent each day building toward the next, managing meetings and completing necessary paperwork,” Robertson said. “There were definitely a lot of people working a lot harder out in the field as a result of what was happening in our emergency operations center.”

The team did assist with the recovery effort in North Bend on March 20, verifying that the incident command system being used in the community met state and federal standards.

Overall, the work showcased the effectiveness of incident command procedures that are followed by the University Police Department and other first responders nationwide.

“I was really proud to be called in to help the residents of Fremont and Dodge County,” Robertson said. “It was very rewarding to serve them. It was also a tremendous opportunity to verify that the training I’ve done and all the work we do toward emergency preparedness here on campus really does work.

“My goal now is to take my experiences from the Fremont floods and share them with our team here on campus, and further strengthen our overall emergency preparedness.”

The Fremont floods marked the second time Robertson has been called to serve on an emergency response team. He also served with a state agency authority for a wildfire in 2006.

Mark Robertson works on paperwork as part of the emergency response team in Fremont. Robertson was one of four officials selected by the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency to help in Dodge County after flooding in March.