Here at Hagerty, we truly believe the advantage is our people. This month, we highlight some of Hagerty’s new Associate professionals. We discuss their professional background and experience and how it led them to the Hagerty team. 

1. Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting

Mackenzie Forgacs: My name is Mackenzie Forgacs, but I go by Mackie to all of my friends and family, including my new Hagerty family! I currently reside in the beautiful city of Asheville, North Carolina—known for its hiking opportunities in the Blue Ridge Mountains, great food, and, as the large painted water tower downtown states, its “chill vibes.” 

Prior to joining the Hagerty team, I worked as the Preparedness Coordinator for a local emergency management agency. Working at the local level allowed me to take on a jack-of-all-trades role, formulating all of our Public Assistance (PA) projects, conducting training and exercises for other local agencies, and working in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during response efforts. This role opened my eyes to the private side of emergency management, which ultimately led me to Hagerty Consulting.

Tanvi Patel: I am based out of Austin, TX, and a proud alumnus of Texas A&M University. I unexpectedly stumbled upon the exciting field of emergency management through the relationships I built during an internship with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Trauma Systems Department at the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Through networking, I met with the Emergency Management Coordinator for my university, who gave me my formal introduction to the field of emergency management. My interest peaked immediately, and I soon found myself working at the State Medical Operations Center (SMOC) as a part of the state’s COVID-19 response team. During this response operation, I learned the importance of strong public health infrastructure, resilient communities, and overall emergency preparedness efforts. Through colleagues at DSHS SMOC, I was introduced to Hagerty Consulting, and the rest is history!

2. What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management?

Mackenzie Forgacs: For me, the most rewarding aspects of emergency management are the opportunities to be there for individuals during some of their most difficult days. As we all know too well, disasters do not discriminate, and they can impact individuals in any place, at any time. My role in this field can often provide a small glimpse of light on someone’s darkest days. Spending my life in service of others, even if it is something as “behind the scenes” as working through spreadsheets or reading over contracts, gives me purpose and pushes me through each day. Our work matters and has a significant impact on people’s lives, even if it may sometimes seem small.

Tanvi Patel: As a professional in emergency management, I find it humbling to play an essential and direct role in helping communities become more resilient and helping people whose lives have been affected by crises. Not only has my job as an emergency management professional equipped me with the knowledge and skills needed to serve our clients, but it has genuinely helped me develop a better perspective on the challenges that our clients and communities face today. A career in emergency management is both exciting and challenging as it allows you to engage with and learn from partners across various disciplines to work towards a common goal.

3. Which of the firm’s core values resonates with you the most and why?

Mackenzie Forgacs: The core value that resonates with me the most is Integrity. From a young age, my father would tell me that “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” Although he would often use this as a speech to keep me out of trouble, this saying has never been more applicable to me than in my time as a working professional. 

Tanvi Patel: Hagerty’s values of Innovation and Excellence resonate with me the most. Every day, I see that the work my colleagues and I do is driven by clients’ best interests. We collaborate as a team and leverage our expertise, experiences, and skills to produce the best and most innovative results for our clients. Being a part of an organization that fosters creative thinking and recognizes clients’ unique needs allows us to deliver the best, most suitable, and sustainable solutions for those we serve. 

4. What are you passionate about outside of work?

Mackenzie Forgacs: Outside of work, I have a multitude of passions! The first that comes to mind is any and all outdoor activities. I love camping, boating on lakes, playing sports, and hiking with my wife, Nikki, and our five-year-old dog, Summit! Beyond spending time with loved ones, traveling also holds a very special place in my heart. The opportunity to experience other cultures and learn from different perspectives is a type of passion that can only be fulfilled by opening yourself up to the world around you!

Tanvi Patel: Traveling is one of my greatest passions. Exposure to new environments, people, and cultures is truly an educational and fulfilling experience as it allows me to grow as a person and step out of my comfort zone. 

5. Where is one place in the world you would like to travel and why?

Mackenzie Forgacs: There are so many incredible places that I wish to visit. The list is truly endless, but the next destination I want to travel to is Italy—who doesn’t love pizza and pasta? With so many beautiful places in the world to travel to, this feels like it would be a great place to start!

Tanvi Patel: I have a very long travel list, but Italy is towards the top! In addition to its beautiful culture and food, the country has a rich history and incredible architecture that I would love to learn more about. I have heard nothing but great things from those who have visited Italy and hope I get to experience it for myself soon!

To learn more about Hagerty’s Federal Funds Management services, visit our service line page here.


Mackenzie Forgacs is a recovery associate with five plus years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors coordinating the function and operation of mitigation, response, recovery, preparedness, mission support, and grants programs. She holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree in Emergency Management from Columbia Southern University and has participated in disaster recovery efforts in both the federal and county level.

Tanvi Patel is a preparedness associate with a multidisciplinary background in disaster management, healthcare consulting, and public health. In her role at Hagerty, she has supported response and recovery initiatives related to After-Action Reports (AAR), COVID-19 Improvement Plan (IP) development, and emerging grant funding such as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

Extreme Weather impacts Millions across the US


As the summer months continue, extreme weather consistently persists across the United States (US).


Excessive heat and humidity continues to blanket the Plains and Midwest, and the weather is expected to expand east and reach the Southeast US by mid-week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS reported high temperatures throughout the Mississippi Valley toward the Southern Plains, stretching east into the Great Lakes and Deep South. Temperature anomalies in the Great Lakes are facing highs 15 to 25 degrees above normal. Daytime high temperatures are predicted to reach the triple digits by Wednesday, June 22. As a result of heat conditions, the NWS issued heat advisories for many locations across the country. The extreme heat noticeably increases the risk of heat-related illnesses, especially for those working or staying outdoors. The NWS cautioned individuals to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun, remain in air-conditioned rooms, and check on relatives and neighbors.

Energy company Entergy, which provides power for 3 million customers throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, reported they anticipate to see the “highest energy usage by our customers that the company has ever seen” for the week ahead, following the high temperatures recorded throughout the county. Entergy cautioned they were working to ensure they have enough power for customers across the country to avoid any power disruptions.

NBC-affiliate Kare 11 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, reported the extreme heat has even caused two roads in the area to buckle over the past weekend: Highway 100 in Golden Valley and I-35E north of Rush City. The Minnesota Department of Transportation cautioned drivers to try and avoid driving over any potential road buckles or cracks, which could pose dangerous hazards for drivers.

NWS Weather Prediction Center: Twitter

Extreme heat conditions were responsible for at least 2,000 cattle deaths in southwest Kansas over the weekend of June 11, with National Public Radio (NPR) reporting the intense heat stress for cattle resulted in thousands of animal deaths. Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Communications Director Matt Lara told NPR the agency was aware of at least 2,000 cattle deaths as a result of the heat conditions that resulted in temperatures higher than 100 degrees, which made it “difficult for the cows to stay cool.” NPR suggested the actual number could be higher, as cattle ranches are not required to report the losses. According to the US Drought Monitor, the entirety of western Kansas is currently classified as abnormally dry or in a drought. 

CNN reported the heat dome has spread across the Plains and Midwest, with 70 percent of the US population experiencing temperatures in the 90s in the week of June 20, while 20 percent of citizens are anticipated to experience temperatures greater than 100 degrees. According to AccuWeather, the dome is a wall of heat that is moving over the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley region, with temperatures reaching into the 90s and triple-digits within the core of the dome. Buildup from the heat can make urban areas uncomfortable in the evening, as paved, brick, and concrete surfaces release heat absorbed through the day during nighttime hours. The heat wave has been ongoing for two straight weeks. NPR noted that over 25 major cities tied or broke record-high temperatures on Saturday, June 11, due to a heatwave that stretched across most of the Southwestern US, enveloping roughly 53 million people under excessive heat warnings.


Extreme heat waves and critically dry conditions continue to increase the risk for wildfire activity across the US. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 45 large fires are currently active across 10 states, burning more than 1.8 million acres. Alaska is experiencing the bulk of active fires, with 29 currently burning, while Arizona has six active fires and New Mexico is facing three. In its monthly seasonal outlook, the NIFC indicates the year-to-date total of acres burned within the US is approximately 112 percent above the 10-year average.

The Lime Complex, the largest fire burning in the US, currently spans over 484,720 acres of Southwest Alaska. According to Alaska Wildland Fire Information, the Lime Complex is a series of 18 lightning-caused wildfires (with response teams only staffed to handle four fires). Meanwhile, record-breaking temperatures and gusty winds have intensified fire conditions in western states. In New Mexico, NIFC InciWeb recorded that the Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon fire complex continues to impact areas east of Santa Fe. The complex has burned a total of 341,471 acres since early April, making it the state’s largest wildfire on record, and it is currently sitting at 72 percent containment. Forest Service law enforcement officers have arrested and charged a subject in connection with the wildfire for natural resource violations, according to InciWeb.

NWS Flagstaff: Twitter


An unexpected atmospheric river made landfall in the Pacific Northwest over the weekend of June 10 -12, leading to extreme flash flooding early last week in Yellowstone National Park. According to NOAA, atmospheric rivers are regions in the atmosphere that transport water vapor and generally release it as rain or snow once they reach land. This weather event produced heavy rainfall which, combined with rapid snowmelt from rising temperatures, caused rivers to swell and overflow their banks leading to intense flooding throughout the lower elevations in the park and surrounding towns. The Yellowstone River surpassed its historical high crest by more than two feet

Montana’s Governor, Greg Gianforte, declared a statewide disaster on Tuesday, June 14, and the National Park Service (NPS) closed all entrances to Yellowstone Park on Monday, June 13. More than 10,000 visitors were ordered to leave the park for their own safety, and about 100 people were airlifted to safety. Videos and photos taken by visitors show flood waters inundating areas and sweeping away entire buildings and sections of roads. Due to severe damage to roads, power lines, and other critical infrastructure, Yellowstone’s north loop will remain closed for an indefinite amount of time and the south loop will reopen on June 22.

Outside of Yellowstone, gateway towns, including Billings, the largest city in Montana, were also affected by the high flood waters. Rising rivers destroyed bridges, inundated homes, and impacted water infrastructure in surrounding towns. One town named Gardiner, located close to the border of Wyoming and Montana, was mostly spared damage from flood water; however, roads in and out of the small town were not leading to hundreds of residents and visitors to be stranded until Tuesday, June 14.

Yellowstone NPS: Twitter

Know Your Alerts and Warnings:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges individuals to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against these violent storms. An essential preparedness measure is to sign up in advance for your community’s emergency alerts and warnings and to pay close attention to local weather reports for real-time conditions. provides information on how to prepare for, survive during, and be safe after various extreme weather events.

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation. Visit Disaster Discourse for the latest information.

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Tom Leatherbee and Rachel Knoblach

Here at Hagerty, we truly believe the advantage is our people. Within our Recovery division, we proudly staff a team of subject matter experts (SME’s) dedicated to helping clients navigate complex federal disaster programs and secure every available funding source. Today, we highlight two of Hagerty’s Recovery professionals supporting our American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) team.

1. Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting.

Tom Leatherbee: After college, I ran several political campaigns and worked in the insurance industry. Most of my professional career has been in public administration within the City of Syracuse, NY, and the City of Del City, OK. During my 15 years with Del City, I worked in Planning, Community Development, Economic Development, and City Administration departments and led efforts to refocus all city activities through a lens of positive redevelopment. Del City is a tremendously flood-prone community, which led to my involvement with state and national stormwater organizations. This eventually led me to Hagerty.

Rachel Knoblach: I was in graduate school and working as a research assistant for the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCCJ) at Florida State University (FSU) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This led to my campus closing, classes being postponed, and the undergraduate courses I was teaching transitioned online. During this time, I began to look for an opportunity to support what was mounting to be an unprecedented emergency response to a global pandemic. I took an internship with an emergency management firm supporting the COVID-19 response in my community, and in the span of six months, I assisted in the development of two COVID-19-informed planning frameworks, participated in emergency response drills, supported disaster recovery projects, and processed invoices totaling over $450 million for frontline healthcare workers. After finishing my master’s program, I reached out to a former colleague about opportunities with Hagerty Consulting — a decision that would ultimately lead to a fulfilling career with this company. 

2. What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management?

Tom Leatherbee: Emergency management is a microcosm of our society and an opportunity for creative problem-solving. In Oklahoma, I played a part in creating the nation’s first volunteer flood disaster response team, which allowed me to experience, learn, and then teach about response, recovery, mitigation, and resilience. I find it particularly rewarding when policy and politics can come together to help impacted communities rebuild in a smart, sustainable way.

In my role managing several engagements within the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) portfolio, I have the opportunity to prepare detailed program design work. On any given day, I support a diverse number of projects with varying goals.

Rachel Knoblach: Working in the field of Emergency Management during the COVID-19 pandemic response creates a sense of urgency and purpose. State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) governments have been preparing for, responding to, and recovering from wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters while actively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day, I have an opportunity to help a community work through challenges created and exacerbated by COVID-19. I work closely with our clients to build programs designed to deploy ARPA funds in ways that address their community’s most pressing recovery needs. This work helps communities respond to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild, and be better prepared on the long road to recovery.

3. How does your work as a Federal Funds Management professional support the firm’s overall mission: helping people before, during, and after disasters?

Tom Leatherbee: Federal Funds Management is an umbrella concept that includes identifying needs, prioritizing solutions, matching available funding streams, and implementing projects while focusing on effective administration and developing a robust compliance infrastructure. Effective Federal Funds Management allows a community to go beyond basic recovery efforts to seek structural and functional changes that will reduce future risk and build toward a sustainable future. Because it includes the entire funding lifecycle, from community engagement and needs assessment to program evaluation and audit, Federal Funds Management is what unites preparedness, mitigation, resilience-building, response, and recovery activities.

Rachel Knoblach: As a Federal Funds Management professional, I help our clients understand how to address their needs by pursuing these federal funding opportunities. The unprecedented funding opportunities stemming from the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides communities across the country with the resources to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. These resources create opportunities for historic investments in broadband, transportation, and water infrastructure; mental health and housing interventions; and mitigation and resiliency planning. Communities can leverage the $1.2 trillion under the IIJA and their allocation under the $350 billion SLFRF program to amplify the impact of available resources on local response and recovery efforts.

4. How can communities best utilize their ARPA allocations?

Tom Leatherbee: ARPA, and particularly the SLFRF program, was created with two goals: to respond to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitate investments that would foster future resilience. Whether designing a program to respond to a negative economic impact or scoping an eligible infrastructure project, communities should prioritize long-term solutions over the temptation of short-term successes. SLFRF program funds are some of the most flexible federal dollars ever made available to communities, which underscores the need for meaningful outreach to internal and external stakeholders to identify fundamental needs within the community. SLFRF funds should work to leverage other available funding streams, including those contained in the IIJA.

Rachel Knoblach: ARPA funding is designed to help communities respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its myriad of impacts. Governments can best utilize this opportunity by leveraging and investing in federal support from the ARPA to bridge gaps in local budgets, invest in infrastructure, and meet the needs of impacted and disproportionately impacted populations and communities. One recommended approach is to assess needs, identify resources available for each need, and prioritize funding opportunities. For example, communities interested in investing in infrastructure may use SLFRF under the revenue loss eligibility category to meet the non-federal cost share or matching requirements for a variety of programs under the IIJA.

5. What are you passionate about outside of work?

Tom Leatherbee: I have a 12-year-old who plays hockey all across North America, and I have been lucky enough to get involved as a youth hockey coach. I also have three large dogs and a small turtle who occasionally attend and contribute to project meetings.

Rachel Knoblach: On Friday nights, my home office transforms into a stained glass studio. I spend my mornings and cloudy days creating beautiful suncatchers and plant stakes. When I am not working in my studio, I enjoy walking through the woods and along the water in search of fossils, geodes, pottery, and sea glass.

To learn more about Hagerty’s Federal Funds Management services, visit our service line page here.

Tom Leatherbee is a public administrator with over 15 years of experience in planning, administration, and regulatory compliance matters. As a Senior Managing Associate at Hagerty, he has provided significant support for recovery and investment projects stemming from ARPA efforts in numerous county programs. 

Rachel Knoblach is an associate with diverse leadership experience across a variety of fields. Ms. Knoblach has contributed to a diverse portfolio of ARPA projects, and she has supported work related to ARPA program design, administration, compliance, and reporting. Ms. Knoblach has advised policymakers and industry leaders on strategic approaches from utilizing federal funds to complement existing priorities to addressing community recovery needs.

Extreme Weather Brings Tornadoes and Storms to Southern States


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) has predicted heavy to excessive rainfall, combined with severe thunderstorms throughout the Deep South on Tuesday before moving into the Southeast United States (US) on Wednesday. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) noted an enhanced to moderate risk for severe weather throughout approximately the same area, with storms capable of creating strong tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail. Rainfall from the same system is expected to move into the Midwest and middle/upper Mississippi Valley on Tuesday, with wintry precipitation a potential risk across northern regions of the country. The NWS Storm Prediction Center additionally tweeted that a tornado watch (with the likelihood of large hail) is in effect for southeastern Louisiana and southern and central Mississippi until 7pm Central Daylight Time (CDT) Tuesday. A tornado watch is also in effect for New Orleans until 7pm CDT, according to NOLA Ready

Twitter: Jesus Jimenez, KXAN in Austin

On Monday March 21, The AP News reported numerous tornadoes spread across portions of Texas and Oklahoma. The storms caused widespread damage and injuries along the Interstate 35 corridor in Texas.The worst damage was seen in the Austin suburbs of Round Rock and Elgin and the west-northwest portion of Dallas-Fort Worth. Officials reported at least four individuals were injured on Monday as a result of the storms. Jacksboro, Texas officials stated that high winds from a storm had ripped the wall and roof from portions of Jacksboro High School, according to AP News. The NOAA NWS issued a tornado watch that lasted in Central Texas counties until 1 am CDT on Monday, with Fox-affiliated 7 Austin recording that Gillespie County, Hays County, Bastrop County, Caldwell County, Lee County, Blanco County, Travis County, Llano County, Burnet County, Williamson County, Fayette County, Bell County, Milam County and Lampasas County all fell under the tornado watch.


Tornado preparedness

While tornadoes are most likely to occur in the US Midwest and Southeast regions, it is important that everyone be prepared for severe storms and weather. Knowing your risk and making a plan are the first steps in preparing for severe weather. 

Regardless of the hazards you may face, one essential preparedness measure it to sign up for emergency alerts and warnings and pay attention to local weather forecasts. Making a plan for severe weather and tornadoes includes identifying the safest place for you and your family, including any pets you might have. Safe rooms and storm shelters built to the International Code Council (ICC) 500 Standards, which define the “minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare relative to the design, construction, and installation of storm shelters”, are the safest option. However, if those are not available, the next best option is to shelter in a small, interior, windowless room or basement on the lowest level of a sturdily built building. Have an emergency kit ready that includes enough supplies like food and medicine.


If your area is under a severe weather or tornado warning, plan to take shelter immediately. However, you should never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. If you are in a car or outside and cannot get to shelter, the best thing to do is to lay flat on the ground, preferably in a ditch or ravine, and cover yourself as best you can, especially your neck and head. Pay close attention to local alert systems for current emergency information and updates, and don’t leave your shelter until it is safe to do so.


While the immediate danger may have passed, there are still safety considerations to remember once the storms are over. Continue to pay attention to local alerts and seek medical attention if you are sick or injured. Once you are able to leave shelter, stay clear of fallen power lines or other broken utilities and be very careful when navigating debris. Wear long pants and sleeves, work gloves, and heavy-soled shoes when clearing debris and follow the appropriate guidelines for staging debris and cleaning your home.

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation. Visit Disaster Discourse for the latest information.

Severe Weather Brings Winter Storms, Strong Winds, and Wildfires to Various Parts of the United States


Over the past week, the United States (US) has experienced severe weather from coast to coast.


On Monday, January 3, a winter storm produced strong winds and significant snowfall across large portions of the US Southeast and mid-Atlantic. The National Weather Service (NWS) reported Virginia experienced over 14 inches of snow, while Maryland saw 13 inches. Washington, DC additionally experienced 8.5 inches of snow, while North Carolina saw 11 inches. Alabama and Florida also experienced snowfall. The storm has created critical conditions across the East Coast, resulting in casualties for at least five people. Power outages have spread across the coast, with PowerOutage.US reporting Virginia is currently experiencing 260,372 outages as of Tuesday morning.

Reuters also noted that the severe weather forced federal government offices to close in Washington, D.C., with President Joe Biden and his staff forced to remain on Air Force One for 30 minutes as plows cleared the runway. Schools throughout the area were also closed or delayed, and public transportation around the nation’s capital was required to operate on a reduced schedule. 

On Monday evening, several accidents occurred on a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 south of Washington, DC. As a result, The New York Times noted numerous motorists were stranded on the interstate overnight. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a statement, declaring the state was connecting the stranded drivers with support and working with localities to open warming shelters. 

National Weather Service: Twitter


In the western part of the country, the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado erupted on the morning of Thursday, December 30, where dry conditions and winds in excess of 100 miles per hour (mph) facilitated the fire’s spread. According to The Weather Channel, over 30,000 residents in southern Boulder and Broomfield counties were forced to evacuate and more than 1,000 homes were destroyed in the fire. The Marshall Fire spread over 9 square miles in a densely developed, primarily suburban area, including the Colorado City of Louisville and town of Superior. Colorado Governor Jared Polis gave a news briefing on Friday, December 31, stating that President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the areas destroyed by the fire and paving the way for federal disaster aid. The Weather Channel noted that while the fire is still burning, officials said it is not expected to grow any larger due to calmer winds and snow moving into the region.

Officials with the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management held a briefing on Monday, January 3, to update citizens on the response to the Marshall fire. Two individuals are currently missing as a result of the wildfire. However, officials were able to announce a third missing person from Louisville was located and is “alive and well.” The origin of the fire is still unknown, and Governor Polis added that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is actively investigating the cause of the fire. Officials have set up a Disaster Assistance Center for community members who have been impacted in various ways by the Marshal Fire.

Planning an evacuation route in case of wildfire:

Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center forecasts Critical Fire Weather for East-Central New Mexico, parts of the South Plains as well as portions of the Texas Panhandle. Wildfires often strike communities with little notice, which is why the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges individuals to plan ahead. This includes learning and practicing your household’s evacuation routes, as well as preparing an emergency supply kit. To stay informed about wildfire events, the (NOAA) National Weather Services (NWS) provides the latest alerts in your area in the form of “Red Flag Warnings,” which indicate when critical fire weather conditions are occurring or will occur shortly. Another way to stay updated is taking advantage of real-time alerts available via the FEMA Mobile App and other local and national communication systems. FEMA encourages individuals to adhere to the guidance of local authorities in order to stay safe during wildfire events impacting their community.

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation. Visit Disaster Discourse for the latest information.

Severe Weather Creates Extreme Flooding, Excessive Rainfall, and Strong Winds Across the United States


The United States (US) has experienced severe weather from coast to coast, according to CNN. A bomb cyclone and atmospheric river event hit the West Coast earlier in the week on Sunday, October 24, while a powerful nor’easter struck the East Coast on the evening of Tuesday, October 26, with repercussions that are still being faced today.

West Coast

A convergence of torrential rain and high winds produced a bomb cyclone and atmospheric river event on the West Coast Sunday, October 24 and Monday, October 25 causing excessive rainfall, damaging winds, flooding, and mudslides across California’s Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest, according to USA Today. Over 350,000 homes and businesses in California, Washington, and Oregon experienced power outages. Two fatalities were reported in the greater Seattle area as extreme winds caused a tree to fall. Record-breaking rainfall of 4.02 inches was recorded in downtown San Francisco on Sunday, the city’s fourth wettest day in its recorded history. 16.55 inches of rain was recorded on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County; many other areas across the counties of Almeda, Contra Costa, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma saw rainfall totals in excess of 8-14 includes, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) Bay Area.

Santa Rosa Fire Department: Twitter

Evacuation orders and other warnings were issued in parts of San Francisco due to a potential for tree hazard, and in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties for those around the CZU Fire burn scar areas, as reported by NBC Bay Area; the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) also deployed resources to Santa Barbara County, Santa Cruz County, El Dorado County, and the County of Kern to monitor areas impacted by recent fires that were susceptible to burn scar. By 7:30 a.m. Sunday, October 24, multiple debris flows, or mudslides, forced authorities to shut down Highway 70 between Jarbo Gap and Greenville. While this extreme weather event delivered hazards and disruptions, the rainfall was a welcome relief for the fire and drought ridden areas and “should end our need – to a large degree – to fight [the Caldor] fire,” according to Christy Brigham, chief of resource management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, as reported by the Associated Press.

East Coast

A powerful nor’easter struck southeast New England on the evening of Tuesday, October 26, stretching into early Wednesday, October 27, with damaging winds that downed trees and power lines throughout the region, according to The Weather Channel. Southeast Massachusetts was hit especially hardthe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NWS recorded wind gusts of more than 70 miles per hour (mph) in southeast Massachusetts on Wednesday, October 27. The same day saw wind gusts reach up to 84 mph in Duxbury, Massachusetts and 94 mph at Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, where the wind lifted a small aircraft at the New Bedford Regional Airport and deposited it onto a roadway. A bomb cyclone created the winds, which caused the pressure on Nantucket to drop 28 millibars (mb) over 24 hours on Wednesday, October 27. The same storm struck the New York City (NYC) area on Tuesday, October 26, dumping over three inches of rain across parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. 

The New York Times reported subway and commuter rail service in the region was delayed to allow employees to remove debris from the tracks, while numerous Massachusetts communities canceled school for the day. As of Thursday, October 28 morning, there are 324,043 outages in Massachusetts, according to PowerOutage.US – an improvement of over 400,000 customers in the state without power as of 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 27. 

AccuWeather meteorologists forecast more rain and winds will hit the Northeast on Thursday, October 28 as a storm moves across the center of the US towards southern Pennsylvania, northern Maryland, far eastern West Virginia, and northern Virginia. AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Sadvary said that while the incoming “storm system isn’t forecast to be nearly as strong as the nor’easter which impacted the region earlier this week, additional heavy rainfall could further exacerbate flooding issues that are already in place.”

NWS Boston: Twitter

Storm Damage: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

To stay informed about severe weather events, NOAA NWS provides the latest alerts in your area. Another way to stay updated is through real-time alerts available via the FEMA Mobile App and other local and national communication systems. FEMA encourages individuals to adhere to the guidance of local authorities in order to stay safe during wildfire events impacting their community.

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation. Visit Disaster Discourse for the latest information.

The Hagerty Advantage: Our People: Taylor Kemp, Andrew Perry, and Adam Shen

Here at Hagerty, we truly believe the advantage is our people. Throughout the months of June and July, we will be profiling several of Hagerty’s Response professionals – many of whom have been deployed continuously over the past year helping our clients respond to COVID-19 and other natural hazards.

Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting.

Adam: I came to Hagerty Consulting because of my passion to leave people better than I found them.

Andrew: While studying abroad during undergrad, I was exposed to refugee camps and humanitarian relief operations in Uganda and realized ‘right then and there’ that I wanted to be in the business of helping people in their time of need. From there, I joined AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Corps where I deployed to Hurricane Harvey before heading into consulting. I joined Hagerty in March 2020, where I have had the pleasure to support multiple clients respond to and recover from COVID-19, Hurricane Hanna and Winter Storm Uri.

Taylor: After being unsatisfied with my previous career trajectory in business and marketing, I began searching for a career path that would allow me to help people and the world we live in at a macro level. After much searching, I discovered disaster management and pursued a master’s degree in Disaster Resilience Leadership at Tulane University. My professors spoke highly of Hagerty and the support we provided to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and I jumped at the opportunity to work for Hagerty following my graduation.

What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management, especially as a disaster response professional?

Adam Shen: I have a deep desire to help people and bring them hope and that’s what I enjoy the most about emergency management – being a bright spot in a dark time.

Andrew Perry: The most rewarding aspect of this job is the profound feeling of pride and purpose when helping communities persevere through a disaster and kickstart their recovery. These experiences, whether planning mass vaccination sites, procuring a million-plus gallons of potable water or securing much-needed federal recovery dollars, will always remain important milestones in my life.

Taylor Kemp: As a disaster response professional, there is just something incredibly rewarding about helping communities in their time of need. Working as a trusted partner with our clients to navigate intensely challenging times and to solve an ever-evolving list of problems is so gratifying and is at the heart of why I began a career in emergency management.

With hurricane season underway and the peak time for wildfires on the horizon, how should communities be preparing today?

Adam Shen: With wildfire and hurricane season around the corner communities should be aware of what shelters they can go to as well as stock up on supplies such as non-perishable food and water. Don’t wait until the last minute!

Andrew Perry: Communities should be actively reviewing their emergency plans and procedures. If yours hasn’t yet started, there is no better time than today! Don’t forget that recovery begins during the response; take time to ensure that your community has up-to-date measures in place to account for and document all disaster-related costs and damages.

Taylor Kemp: Communities should begin planning now at the household, business, and local government levels. There are many resources online to guide households and businesses on how to become better prepared, such as by putting together an emergency plan and gathering needed supplies. Local governments should also be reviewing and updating their response plans and checking supply levels to be best positioned for a response.


What are you passionate about outside of work?

Adam Shen: I am very passionate about my fitness as well as photography outside of work.

Andrew Perry: Austin FC. Austin established its first professional sports team this year and I have been all in! I am a member of the team’s supporter group, Los Verdes, and plan to attend as many home games as I can.

Taylor Kemp: I really enjoy training in martial arts, primarily in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as well as spending time outdoors with my dog, Blue.

Where is one place in the world you would like to travel and why?

Adam Shen: I would love to travel to the Maldives to see the clear water and lay on a hammock above the ocean.

Andrew Perry: Nepal. I spent a year in the Everest region following undergrad and fell in love with culture and people. When I have the chance to take an extended vacation, I would return in a heartbeat.

Taylor Kemp: I absolutely love traveling and experiencing new environments and cultures, so there are many places on my bucket list! If I had to pick only one, I would love to visit New Zealand. From a young age, I’ve been drawn to the beautiful landscape and culture – where else can you find such stunning mountain ranges and sandy beaches side by side?

Adam Shen is an emergency management professional that currently coordinates intern development for COVID-19 response operations. Adams has experience in project management and professional development.  

Andrew Perry brings four years of emergency management and disaster cost recovery experience. He has expertise in project management and grant administration services to state and local governments and private non-profit organizations. He has provided technical assistance in policy, compliance monitoring, grant oversight, reporting, payment reimbursement, and procurement across eleven major disaster declarations.

Taylor Kemp is an emergency management professional with experience in emergency preparedness and recovery, including active threat and Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack (CCTA) planning, training, and exercise development, as well as after-action reporting, cost recovery, and hazard mitigation.

The Hagerty Advantage: Our People: Harrison Newton and Liz Foster

It is no secret; our planet’s climate is changing. Currently, much of the East and West Coasts are dealing with a record-breaking heatwave. Additionally, earlier this year, a massive ice storm, Winter Storm Uri, had widespread impacts across the United States, Northern Mexico, and parts of Canada. Moreover, many of the areas being impacted have never experienced weather events of this scale and magnitude before.

In order to properly prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against extreme weather events, it is important that climate change and disaster management be viewed through a holistic and interconnected lens – one weather event may create the environment for another one to occur. Today, two of Hagerty’s climate and resilience experts discuss their perspectives on the changing climate and how communities should be preparing today.

Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting.

Harrison Newton, Senior Managing Associate

I began my career in resilience as an outreach team leader, responding to a crisis caused by failing infrastructure – the release of toxic levels of lead in the drinking water in Washington DC. In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), I went door-to-door in DC’s impacted neighborhoods, educating families about the risk of contaminated water from deteriorating pipes and how they could mitigate it. I also led a task force that brought together researchers, local officials, and community leaders to rebuild lost trust, develop corrective legislation and reform the systems that failed to protect the public.

I then took the role of Chief of Environmental Health at the District’s Department of Environment, where I mobilized the city’s public health resources in response to large scale exposures caused by illegal demolitions and other similar events.

Later, I led the District’s suite of energy programs that supported residents experiencing energy emergencies and power loss. I was then selected by the City Administrator to launch the District’s first Resilience office, establishing a “Resilience Cabinet” – a body of agency leaders at the intersection of health, disaster readiness, transportation, housing and technology. We developed an executive-level strategy that aligned programs, plans and priorities in areas including climate action and preparedness, technology, and project financing.

Ensuring leaders, communities and scientists work together to build resilient systems is my life’s work. I am happy to bring that focus to Hagerty.

Elizabeth Foster, Senior Managing Associate

My career began with simple love of the outdoors and collegiate coursework in environmental science and policy. While I was a student, I assisted a youth-led urban gardening organization and earned my EMT certification; working in those capacities started me thinking about the connections between emergency management, holistic health, and climate change solutions.

Since then, I have focused on helping communities, governments, and businesses prepare for and manage the impacts of climate change. I’ve worked in multiple sectors in a variety of roles including as a business continuity specialist, advisor to a municipal government in the Philippines (through Peace Corps Response), and manager of technical assistance focused on development and land use strategies to improve urban resilience.

It has become clear to me through these disparate roles that building more equitable socioeconomic systems and climate-prepared infrastructure is critical to our future. I am excited to be at Hagerty where we offer a full suite of services to support communities through disasters and help them proactively adapt to the long-term consequences of climate change.

Given your professional experience with climate adaptation, mitigation, and resilience planning, how is climate change impacting the United States’ (US) infrastructure and what must be done about it?

The US faces a generational infrastructure challenge on at least two fronts. The first is the problem of aging infrastructure; bridges and roads are at the end of their life cycles, and older technology is vulnerable to the increasing disruptions of climate-related disasters. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates a 10-year U.S. infrastructure gap of $2.59 trillion. On top of those existing dynamics, more extreme weather events driven by climate change are causing increasing amounts of damage to existing assets.

Readying US infrastructure for climate change means reducing damages and preparing systems to function well during extreme weather events, so services are available when they are needed most. At Hagerty, we regularly help our Energy Sector clients create and practice response plans to support the continuation of critical services. An exciting area of innovation is considering how our day-to-day infrastructure, such as electric vehicles or community centers, can support disaster response and recovery in times of need.

The second generational challenge concerns the communities most likely to bear the worst impacts of unprepared infrastructure and climate disasters – minority communities with systemic underinvestment and high levels of poverty. These communities are already starting behind in the race to protect and prepare infrastructure, so going forward, they must be able to co-lead efforts to adapt to the changing environment and design the infrastructure that will define their neighborhoods – hopefully making their communities, and those surrounding them, more equitable.

Other critical solutions include implementing strategies like increasing renewable energy sources, low-carbon construction materials, and continued focus on energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the root cause of climate change – to lessen the chances of future worst-case outcomes.

Amidst a changing climate, what should communities be considering as they rebuild and recover after a disaster?

Rebuilding a community after a major or catastrophic disaster is a monumental undertaking, but there are unique post-disaster opportunities for improving long-term resilience. After Hurricane Michael (2018), the most powerful storm to impact North Florida in recorded history, Hagerty worked with Panama City, Florida to develop methodologies to prioritize and implement recovery actions that aligned with the City’s long-term vision. At least 25 of 33 recovery actions and 26 of the 39 redevelopment actions are in progress, in addition to the City’s management of the COVID pandemic.

Another best practice is to start recovery planning ahead of an incident. This helps alleviate the difficulties of working after a traumatic event and provides more time for community input. In Georgia, Hagerty is assisting 11 coastal counties in preparing disaster recovery and redevelopment plans that emphasize community resilience and incorporate long-term planning for natural disasters into state and local management processes. The completion of the plans for these counties will make Georgia the first state in the nation to have a completely resilient coast through recovery and redevelopment planning.

Communities can also consider spending recovery dollars on housing solutions that are both quickly deployable and permanent, so as to meet immediate needs and contribute to solving the greater housing affordability crisis. Hagerty was asked by the state of Texas to assess the potential of alternative recovery housing solutions such as 3D printed, modular, and prefabricated homes. We found that the industry construction and production capabilities are maturing rapidly, units are available with resilient technologies (wind-proofing, elevated foundation, mold-resistant materials, off-grid energy, etc.), and that these housing types can be a cost-effective solution in comparison to traditional temporary options.

Finally, there’s significant room for recovery innovation in how we scale up programs to support those without access to traditional sources of post disaster funding, such as insurance. Recovery can also be expanded to include supporting receiving communities that, while not directly impacted or eligible for federal assistance, provide housing and services for those displaced by a disaster.

Harrison Newton is a Senior Managing Associate at Hagerty Consulting. Prior to joining Hagerty, he spent nearly a decade in public service with Washington, DC. During his tenure with DC, he was responsible for establishing the District’s first Resilience Office, where he ultimately served as the Deputy Chief Resilience Officer responsible for promoting resiliency programs across various District departments and agencies. Additionally, Harrison also served as the Chief of Environmental Health at the District’s Department of Environment.

Elizabeth Foster is a Senior Managing Associate in Hagerty’s Preparedness Division. Prior to joining Hagerty, she served as a manager of technical assistance focused on development and land use strategies to improve urban resilience with the Urban Land Institute. Elizabeth also served as a Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Program Officer for the US Peace Corps in Amlan, Philippines supporting the municipality’s capacity to implement climate change adaptation and disaster management programs.

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Francesca Laroche and Kris Ledins

THE HAGERTY ADVANTAGE – OUR PEOPLE: Francesca LaRoche and Kris Ledins

September is National Preparedness Month, and, throughout the month, we will be highlighting Hagerty employees working to support our clients’ disaster preparedness needs. During the second week of National Preparedness Month, we are featuring Francesca Laroche, a Managing Associate whose experience ranges from public affairs, response, and public and private partnerships to planning, as well as Kris Ledins, a Managing Associate who has over eight years of experience in emergency management and public safety.

Tell us about yourself – how did your career path lead you to Hagerty?

Francesca: After working in local government, Hagerty seemed like a great next step in my career. I was interested in working in consulting because it would give me an opportunity to see emergency management through a different lens. Moving back to my hometown, New York, was a bonus.

Kris: Over the past decade I have had the opportunity to design, develop, and implement emergency management solutions for local, state, federal, and private sector partners. Paired with my experience as a first responder, I have witnessed, firsthand, the value in building practical, adaptable, and innovative solutions to support emergency personnel. Several years ago, I joined Hagerty because of the Firm’s reputation and continued commitment toward excellent client service, advancing industry knowledge, and integrating interdisciplinary expertise and technology to enhance the efficacy of emergency management programs. Today, I am continuously amazed, not only by the innovative spirit across the Firm, but the level of care, compassion, and professionalism that each individual brings to their work every day.

What do you find most meaningful about the work you do here at Hagerty? 

Francesca: I find it rewarding to see how the work I am doing directly impacts the community I’m serving. Hagerty has been instrumental in COVID-19 response efforts across the nation, and I’ve had the opportunity to be an integral part of that work. I’ve met so many people who are dedicated to serving our clients and impacted communities.

Kris: There are many meaningful aspects to the work we perform at Hagerty; however, for me, the greatest satisfaction comes when I am working on a project that forces me to balance innovation with practicality. The drive to enhance capability, improve efficiency, and reduce cost is ever-present in the field of emergency management. As such, designing scalable systems and processes that look toward the future while acknowledging the current industry landscape is something that continues to inspire me to learn, reassess, and innovate.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you spend it?

Francesca: I enjoy catching up with my friends and family any chance I get. When I’m not working, you can find me video-chatting or calling my loved ones. COVID-19 has reminded me just how important it is to make time to connect with my loved ones.

Kris: I enjoy going hiking with my fiancé and two dogs, Isem and Remy.

Francesca Laroche is a managing associate with experience that ranges from public affairs, response, and public and private partnerships to planning. Ms. Laroche has an extensive background working in local government. She has worked in the public sector in New York City, Philadelphia, and Broward County; developing plans and programs for the public. Ms. Laroche has experience presenting to diverse audiences, creating social media campaigns, and collaborating with partners to streamline recovery efforts.

Kris Ledins is a managing associate with over eight years of experience in emergency management and public safety. He has a proven record of success in developing, implementing, and managing preparedness initiatives for federal, state, local, and private-sector partners. With an in-depth understanding of preparedness cycle theory, real-world response operations, and data analytics, Mr. Ledins develops and delivers solutions that leverage interdisciplinary teams, advanced modeling and simulation technologies, data analytics, and industry-leading emergency management theories/methodologies.

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Caleb Smith and Jessica London

September is National Preparedness Month, and, throughout the month, we will be highlighting Hagerty employees working to support our clients’ disaster preparedness needs. During the first week of National Preparedness Month, we feature Caleb Smith, a Managing Associate who supports disaster workforce readiness initiatives across the country and  Jessica London, an Associate who supports the equitable development of emergency management plans and the inclusion of the disability and access & functional needs populations throughout all areas of emergency management.

Tell us about yourself – how did your career path lead you to Hagerty Consulting?

Caleb: I first took interest in a career with homeland security following the Boston Marathon bombing. A few years later while in graduate school, I was evaluating various Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs as part of my coursework, and my home state of Louisiana was hit by back to back flood events that devastated much of my community. During the second flood, I was helping remove damaged carpet from a family friend’s home and had recently been communicating with local DHS officials for a project related to the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG). I think at that moment, all of these things coincided and I knew I wanted to work on improving emergency management programs and policies at a national level.

Six months later I was starting a career with FEMA and had no idea that I was about to get a crash course in hurricane season. First came Harvey, then Irma, then Maria…all within my first nine months. My work with FEMA took me all over the Southeast in a short amount of time and eventually led me to pursue consulting in Washington, DC.

I was familiar with Hagerty’s work at the state and local level and it seemed like the place to be if you really want to make an impact in the field and work on meaningful projects. Now some of my earliest projects with FEMA have come full circle and I get to apply that experience every day at Hagerty.

Jessica: When I found Emergency Management, I realized this was the field I had been searching for and discovered a passionate group of professionals fiercely committed to helping others. Similar to many people who find their way to the Emergency Management field, my path was far from linear. At a young age, I started volunteering with Special Olympics Oregon. My passion for supporting individuals with disabilities and access and functional needs pushed me towards the public health sphere.

Following a year working in the tech industry, I enrolled in Georgetown University’s Master’s of Emergency and Disaster Management to further my exploration into the field. Soon after I began my studies, I became a Preparedness Division Intern and Homeland Security Fellow at the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA) and National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium (NTIC). These experiences allowed me to engage in both the academic and practitioner sides of Emergency Management.

Once I received my Master’s, I set my sights on Hagerty Consulting. I had previously worked with Hagerty employees on various projects and was continually impressed by their caliber, creativity, and devotion to helping others. I was specifically attracted to Hagerty because I wanted to experience working on and with a wide range of projects and clients. After only a year at Hagerty, I had supported local, state, and federal governments, private industry, and non-governmental organizations on everything from running exercises to developing doctrine.

Through my work at Hagerty, I have been able to achieve my dream of helping people.

What do you find most meaningful about the work you do here at Hagerty?

Caleb: Much of my work revolves around assessment, training, and development for the federal disaster workforce. With the increasing number of threats Americans face today, I think a highly trained and qualified disaster workforce is more important than ever. At the end of the day emergency management is about the survivor. A capable workforce is only going to improve assistance to individuals and communities whether that’s through preparation or recovery.

Jessica: One of the most meaningful aspects of my work is to tangibly see the impact that we have on our clients, communities, and nation. Every day our actions help build a more prepared and resilient world. Hagerty has continued to encourage me to bring my knowledge of and passion for disability and access and functional needs (AFN) inclusion into my work in order to continue to help spread awareness among our clients. As individuals with disabilities and AFN are disproportionately affected by disaster impacts, it is critical that emergency managers effectively address the needs of these populations throughout all operations. I feel honored to work at a firm that is actively working to meet this need.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you spend it?

Caleb: I like to find a good trail with my dog and put some headphones in.

Jessica: Some of my favorite downtime activities are playing board games, particularly Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and 7 Wonders. During COVID-19, I have also had the chance to rediscover my love of puzzles!


Caleb Smith is a managing associate who has public and government affairs, and emergency management experience in both the private and public sectors. Mr. Smith’s experience has primarily focused on National Preparedness with an emphasis on external affairs, stakeholder engagement, communications, and training development for FEMA.

Jessica London is an associate who has diverse, client-facing experience across government and non-governmental entities. She has experience facilitating collaboration with stakeholders to establish and achieve common goals related to developing exercises, identifying areas of risk, and building resilience. As part of her work, Ms. London focuses on the equitable development of emergency management plans and the inclusion of the disability and AFN populations throughout all areas of emergency management.