Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Local Ownership of the Food, Water, and Shelter Community Lifeline

“Supply chain resilience is the ability of a preexisting network of demand and supply to deploy surviving capacity, and/or introduce new capacity, under severe duress. It is the ability of a network, or portion of a network, to continue moving (directing, redirecting, flowing) goods and services even when important elements of the network are no longer operating.”[1]

When disaster strikes, supply chains are often damaged: trucks cannot reach drop-off destinations, delivery equipment is damaged, logistics staff do not report for work. As a result, critical resources, like food and water, do not reach survivors in need. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has long held that disaster responses should be federally supported, state managed, and locally executed, more often than not, the task of recovering supply chains in a community has fallen entirely to FEMA. Meeting the demands of an impacted community in an expedited timeline is extremely challenging because FEMA often lacks intimate familiarity with the communities they serve. In an era of increasingly severe disasters, communities should assume the mantle of recovering their supply chains after a disaster damages them.

Local community members are best-suited to manage the reconstitution of their damaged supply chains because they understand their communities’ needs best. The local companies that serve a community have made a business of meeting local needs by carefully tuning their supply chains. Managing supply chains locally and reducing dependency on outside partners allows jurisdictions to better serve their communities during a crisis. Why outsource supply chain recovery when your community is best equipped to address local needs?

What Can my Community do to Plan a Local Supply Chain Recovery?

Jurisdictions can take steps to locally manage their supply chain recovery in case of a disaster:

  1. Understand the Vulnerabilities of Your Supply Chain: Understanding risks, vulnerabilities, service gaps, and interdependencies will allow government and private partners to work together to create plans and processes that bridge gaps and create a more resilient supply chain and shorten service disruptions—enabling lifeline providers to get back to business quickly.
  2. Leverage the Private Sector: The private sector (e.g., grocers, water companies, mixed retailers) manages most commodity supply chains. Developing relationships with local businesses is a paramount step to creating a more resilient supply chain. Many private sector partners deal with supply chain disruptions daily and can recommend effective strategies to recover damaged supply chains after disasters. Private sector involvement in supply chain recovery can also prevent duplication of effort.
  3. Control supply chains through plans and agreements: Local jurisdictions can have greater control over resources provided to disaster survivors by leveraging plans and agreements with resource providers before disaster strikes. These plans may stipulate specific resources providers will deliver after a disaster (e.g. agreements with grocers to provide food and water to disaster survivors). Additionally, agreements serve to increase trust between jurisdictions and resource providers, encouraging a more cohesive response when disaster occurs.
  4. Stimulate the Economy: The economic benefits of locally managed supply chains are impossible to ignore. If private partners and businesses are given the tools to reestablish operations quickly after a disaster, not only are they providing for their community, they are kick-starting the community’s economic recovery process. When businesses reopen rapidly, survivors are able to patronize the business sooner, funneling money back into the community’s economy.

When communities take responsibility for their supply chain, they strengthen the community lifelines that allow for a speedy recovery after disaster strikes. This means better service for constituents. Hagerty is committed to identifying innovative solutions to make the most resilient communities possible and has the subject matter expertise and experience to assist jurisdictions in meeting their goals of locally managing their supply chain recoveries.

Check out our post from earlier this year to learn more about the Food, Water, and Sheltering Community Lifeline.

Heather Geldart is a highly-qualified emergency management subject matter expert with 15 years of specialized experience in private-public sector supply chain engagement, planning, and training and exercises. Ms. Geldart is skilled in applying all-hazards guidance and processes analytically when executing or exercising operational tactics, plans, and strategies. She leverages her extensive knowledge of applicable emergency management authorities, planning initiatives, directives, policies, and regulations to identify gaps, complexities, and mitigation strategies within disaster operations. She recently served as a senior planner supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop a supply chain resiliency plan as a part of the Region IX Southern California Operational Incident Annex and supported the development of the Supply Chain Management Guide.

Stevee Franks is an experienced homeland security and emergency management professional with expertise in policy guidance, program management, program delivery, strategic planning and coordination, and plan development and maintenance. Ms. Franks has worked with both private sector and government stakeholders to conduct research, foster relationships, and develop research regarding community and jurisdictional planning. Her planning experience covers an array of service areas, including long-term recovery initiatives, active shooter preparedness, continuity of operations plans, and councils of government. She has experience in all aspects of the planning process, from stakeholder engagement, to draft development, to finalization and post-implementation plan maintenance.

Sean van Dril is an Associate within Hagerty’s Preparedness Division. Most recently, Sean supported the State of California in their long-term recovery from the Camp and Woolsey wildfires of 2018. Previously, he worked on Hagerty’s Massachusetts Housing Mission that came in the wake of the Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions. Sean earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Political Science from Northwestern University and currently resides in the Washington D.C. area. In free moments, Sean enjoys finding creative ways to engage young people in the political process.

[1] United States, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “Supply Chain Resilience Guide” April 2019