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FEMA Updates Disaster Plan Based on Lessons from 2017

Monday, October 15th, 2018

FEMA updated its disaster approach in 2018 as a result of the previous year’s particularly catastrophic hurricane season.

2017 was a brutal year for disasters in the United States, especially because Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria struck all in the same month. “The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) strategic goal was only to maintain a workforce that was capable of responding to two concurrent natural disasters,” Jessie Bur writes for Federal Times.

Updates for the 2018 season included new hurricane response plans, increased emergency personnel staffing, improved communications, and “high-priority national-level contracts to be better prepared to cope with responding to multiple concurrent disasters across the nation,” Bur writes.

FEMA’s 2018 approach to disasters involved focusing on the following seven “lifelines” that need to be maintained or reestablished during the crisis:

  • Safety and security
  • Food, water and shelter
  • Health and medical
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Hazardous waste removal

After Hurricane Florence struck in September 2018, reports indicated that both North and South Carolina had the personnel and resources needed to respond to the disaster. The government sent 3,800 federal employees, 1,200 search-and-rescue individuals, and 560 health professionals. Among those deployed were at least 1,000 FEMA employees. Nonprofits also stepped up to organize volunteer efforts.

This availability of manpower and resources to face Hurricane Florence shows promise for equally effective responses to future disasters.

 

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