Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins with Critical Reforms to Disaster Recovery Still Stalled in Congress

Today is the official start of another Atlantic hurricane season, and it’s useful to take stock of where we were exactly one year ago.  It was the first day of what became the seventh most active hurricane season since 1851 – and the most active since 2005.

The 2017 projections from a year ago can help inform what we might see this year.

In May 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA’s) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecasted an active hurricane season due principally to a weak El Nino, near-average ocean temperatures, and weaker vertical wind shear.  The CPC was about right: there were 10 hurricanes in 2017 – of which 6 were Category 3 or higher.  These factors, not so incidentally, are the same as those cited in the CPC’s 2018 forecast.

NOAA’s CPC forecast looks only marginally better for 2018, an unfortunate prospect since many parts of the country including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, are still recovering from last year’s devastating storms:

Data from NOAA for 2017 Forecast, 2017 Actual, and 2018 Forecast

The 2017 season gave birth to a wave of reforms across the disaster preparedness and recovery community.  Among them is the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) [currently attached to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018].  It passed the House of Representatives in late April and is undergoing revisions in the Senate.

We at Disaster Discourse first wrote about the DRRA in December 2017, shortly after it was introduced.  Since then, there have been numerous amendments and a failed February attempt to pass it along with the broader budget act of 2018.

With now some inertia behind it, we’re glad the DRRA has new life.  It contains dozens of reforms aimed at some of the most significant challenges to FEMA preparedness, recovery, and hazard mitigation programming.  It pays particular attention to how to better incentivize and fund disaster resilience.  Overall, though not without its issues, we strongly support the DRRA.

For now, we are hopeful that the Senate will feel the same, on this first day of another potentially potent hurricane season.

This and every onset of hurricane season is a reminder to individuals, families, and communities to be vigilant when a storm approaches.  Hurricane tracks are notoriously difficult to predict.  Play it safe.  Avoid waiting to the last minute to prepare. We’ve included a list of resources below to help be prepared. As the season progresses, Disaster Discourse will continue to monitor Atlantic hurricane activity and provide situational awareness updates.

Resources:

As FEMA has emphasized, we must have a culture of preparedness to help mitigate the impact of disasters. To help prepare for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, we have listed resources below:


Ari Renoni is a Deputy Director of Recovery Programs with Hagerty Consulting based in NYC.  He serves as the Deputy Policy Team Lead supporting clients in the NYC Metro Area. Prior to Hagerty, Ari worked for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Education in Namibia, and for the Center for Policy Research at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, where he also graduated with two graduate degrees: Master of Public Administration and Master of Arts in International Affairs.