A survey was developed to gain an understanding of the essential practices, training and experiences of urban forestry storm responders. The survey data formed the basis for creating the guide and subsequent planning materials and helped the team answer the questions:
What are the features of an “Urban Forestry Emergency Operations Planning Guide” that would be of value to the industry?
How would the guide help the industry prepare for a storm?
Questions were asked about preparedness, types of certifications, experiences in storm response, plans in place, training and drills, contracts and mutual aid agreements, incident command in the urban forest, safety protocols and communication strategies.
The survey development phase took six months and involved industry experts to ensure that questions would consistently provide data about the readiness of the industry to respond to storms.
517 surveys were started and 367 surveys were completed. The chart to the right identifies participants by region.
Click this link to view the survey questions.
Several survey questions are explained below.
The majority of participants had multiple certifications, management skills and 10+ years of experience. The table below identifies the professional experience by number of years.
The comment area included additional job classifications such as damage assessment, crew leader, team scout, incident commander, certified forester, restoration team member, lineman, lodging coordinator, researcher, emergency operations center manager, communications coordinator, public information officer, strike team, and zone manager and tree safety.
By industry, the majority of responders represented city government, public and local in scope, electric utilities, and private industry.
Wind events were responded to far more frequently than any other type of storm.
Reported responses per event in days ranged from 1.6 to 43.71 days, with the longest response taking 790 days.
As a side note regarding storms
In a 2011 article called, “The Unsustainable Trend of Natural Hazard Losses in the United States,” Melanie Gall charted the monetary losses from natural hazards from 1960 to 2009 as being in the billions. Hurricanes were the costliest followed by flooding and coastal hazards, severe weather, geological, heat and drought, winter weather, wildfire, and landslides and avalanches.
See a sample chart below for an example of hazard losses by number of events as compared to the dollar cost. 
Reported Current State of Preparedness
Responders reported moderate to very good preparation for nine of the 16 options listed below. Those areas with less preparation include:
Community profile and hazard analysis.
Inventory of trees in a community.
Post-storm urban forest restoration planning.
Debris management plans.
A tool to estimate debris.
Debris removal contracts.
Debris disposal options.
Incident Command System (ICS)
Five questions were asked about the presence of ICS in an organization.
Findings: While ICS is in place within an organization, the reported results indicate that urban forestry is not part of the ICS structure and is not in place for a declared emergency in the urban forest. The training in ICS and participation on a team responses were nearly equal yes and no’s.
The survey indicated that electric utility companies, municipal government, and private and state organizations are the most important partnerships when planning, responding to and recovering from a storm.
In the comment section additional partners identified were: state emergency services, tree contractors, tree crews, National Guard, and contracted weather forecasters.
What needs to be in place?
Respondents were asked to rank the importance of 16 items that could be in place during an emergency storm in the urban forest.
The six highest priorities identified in terms of importance are:
Adequate equipment to respond to a declared storm event.
Procedures for allocating resources (staff, supplies, etc.).
Key leadership and staff position descriptions and responsibilities.
Communication strategies for responding and sharing information.
Best practices for tree care prior to a storm.
The responses are charted below.
Based on the reported response storm response in the urban forest is a concern. While the data suggests a favorable picture of storm preparedness interviews painted a slightly different picture. A summary of the interview methodology, and conclusion follows.