OAKLAND TOGETHER: A message from Dave Coulter, Oakland County Executive


August 11, 2021

Bi-Weekly County Executive Newsletter

Dear Friends,

In the last 18 months, the first thing that comes to mind when the word EMERGENCY comes up, is the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the last few weeks reminds me that our Emergency Operations and Homeland Security Department is about much more than responding to the pandemic.

There have been three emergency declarations in the last two years: the pandemic in March 2020 and severe weather that hit Oakland County twice in July. The three incidents show that our Emergency Operations department can provide both an efficient and long-term response when needed, like during the pandemic, as well as mobilize quickly when natural disasters hit.

And that’s what happened last month when severe weather clobbered south Oakland County on July 7 and a tornado touched down in White Lake Township on July 24. These have become more frequent and serious events as climate change continues to affect our environment. Thom Hardesty, the director of the department, explained that whenever severe weather warnings are issued by the National Weather Service that the county’s on-call staff and volunteer radio operators head to the Emergency Operations Center and volunteer tornado spotters around the county keep they eyes peeled for any twisters ready to land.

In both cases, the team was immediately in communication with local officials to see what they needed, whether it was Sheriff’s deputies to help with traffic control, the road commission to help with clearing trees from roads, our communications team to help keep the public informed in the aftermath of the storm or offering up a place to work if local offices were damaged or lost power from the storm. As soon as the tornado was sighted, the emergency sirens were activated and by the next morning, county employees were up in helicopters, surveying the damage caused by the nearly 2-mile long and 400-yard wide path of the tornado in White Lake.

white lake damage

For both the south Oakland storm and White Lake tornado, our emergency crews headed to the affected areas in the days following the damaging weather to assist local officials on assessing the damage to homes, businesses and trees. In both cases, Oakland County supported local officials in their request for emergency declarations from the state that will open the door for resources to come into the communities to help with the cleanups.

Those requests were done quickly by both us and the communities and turned over the Michigan State Police for review before heading to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who approved the requests within weeks of the storms. Such a quick turnaround is a testament to the professionalism and efficiency of both the local officials and our team at Emergency Operations.

I take great comfort in knowing that we have such a remarkable team in place that is making sure that we’re safe and protected in times of need. And we will be in an even better position soon. First, the Emergency Operations department recently added warehouse space in Pontiac that will provide a centrally-located spot for us to quickly move the equipment that is needed in an emergency situation to anyplace in the county. I’ll be visiting with the neighbors at that new warehouse site this evening.

And once the 2022 fiscal year budget is approved, the department will take over a Critical Incident Management Team that is now run by a group of fire departments in the county. This will allow a centralized, collaborative and efficient response to emergency situations in the future.

Thom tells me that the best thing about the team at Emergency Operations is the plans they have in place for any scenario.

“We have an overall plan in place for the county and can execute that plan when an incident occurs,” Thom told me.

Straightforward, direct and best of all, prepared. That’s what I like most about our team.

With gratitude,

David Coulter

Oakland County Executive

emergency management

Oakland County reaches vaccination milestone

Oakland County reached a significant milestone recently when the state reported that more than 70% of county residents had received at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

While the news is good, it’s not time to let up, especially with the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus causing case numbers to rise in recent weeks. Oakland County has substantial transmission of COVID-19 and nearly 30% of the county’s residents remain unvaccinated. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control recommend that in areas with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission, people wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

Oakland County honors 2020 class of 40 under 40

On Tuesday evening, Oakland County honored the 40 talented professionals in our 2020 40 Under 40 class at the Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Township. The celebration of the latest class was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the group came together amidst a new business environment spawned by the virus.

For many in the class, remote work became the norm while others were on the front lines in health care and essential work. All learned new and productive ways to conduct business by taking advantage of technology to expand their job horizons.

“We’ve all be learning new ways to interact and do business with each other,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter told the group. “Some of those changes have actually made us more effective and efficient in our jobs and I don’t think remote work will every totally go away.”

Through the last 18 months, the class embodied the Oakland Together message that encompasses talent, skill and excellence coupled with passion for public service and a commitment to significant and critical contributions to their communities.

“I know how challenging the last year has been for all of us and yet, you’re here, you’re succeeding and you’re thriving,” Coulter said. “I’m proud to call you part of the 2020 Class of the Elite 40 under 40.”

The members of are newest class are such a diverse group of extraordinary professionals, ranging from a FBI agent, to elected officials, to medical innovators and entrepreneurs, to leaders in the business, legal and financial fields.

elite 40 group