FEMA Outlines U.S. Preparedness for Catastrophic Disasters

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate recently spoke to the United States House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management at the Rayburn House Office Building about "Improving the Nation's Response to Catastrophic Disasters: How to Minimize Costs and Streamline our Emergency Management Programs." A summary of Fugate's testimony follows as reported by www.thegovmonitor.com.

According to Fugate, because planning and preparing for catastrophic disasters is a top priority at FEMA, the organization is working to improve its preparedness through a "Whole Community" framework.

"This approach recognizes that FEMA is not the nation's emergency management team — FEMA is only a part of the team. In order to successfully prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards, we must work with the entire emergency management community," Fugate said. "This 'Whole Community' includes FEMA and our partners at the federal level; our state, local, tribal and territorial governmental partners; non-governmental organizations like faith-based and non-profit groups and private sector industry; and most importantly, individuals, families, and communities, who continue to be our greatest assets and the key to our success."

Fugate also detailed how FEMA's recent organizational realignment better prepares the organization for future disaster situations. As a part of the new process, under the new Office of Response and Recovery, FEMA has established a new Planning Division that is focused on national, regional and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive catastrophic planning efforts.

Also, national efforts have been put into place that focus on improving existing catastrophic event preparedness capabilities in the United States, with a renewed conviction to plan for the most extreme disasters. FEMA has also expanded its coordination with other federal agencies to smooth and adapt coordination of federal support when it is needed.

Other key disaster preparedness initiatives include:

The grouping of federal agencies by capability and type of expertise into 15 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) to provide the planning, support, resources, program implementation, and emergency services needed during a disaster.

Regional catastrophic planning, and the development of operational plans, is underway for earthquakes, hurricanes, dam failures, improvised nuclear device detonation, evacuation and sheltering of populations during catastrophic events, and preparing for other special events.

Working with state partners to develop "all-hazard" plans based on hazard surveys and risk assessments.

The Disaster Emergency Communications (DEC) Division significantly enhanced state and local governments' communications capabilities through supporting the development of communications plans.

The private sector, encompassing trade associations, corporations, academia, and other non-governmental organizations, remain key partners in FEMA's planning and preparedness efforts. FEMA has expanded the use of technology and communication platforms to share best practices across the nation's private sector through a new online library of more than 40 model public-private emergency management partnerships at the state, local and regional levels.

For more information about FEMA's recent disaster preparedness initiatives, read the full article: http://www.thegovmonitor.com/world_news/united_states/