Hagerty Mention: The Palm Beach Post
In April 2020, Hagerty’s Brock Long was interviewed to discuss federal preparedness efforts in advance of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season amidst the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A pandemic meets hurricane season in Florida: What could go wrong?
Brock Long, executive chairman of Hagerty Consulting and a former FEMA administrator, is optimistic the country can manage both a major storm and coronavirus.
Long dealt with more than 220 different disasters in 2017 and 2018, including major landfalling hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Michael. There also were town-searing wildfires in California, home swallowing volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, and a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Anchorage, AK.
For those two years, Long said about 90 percent of FEMA field employees were deployed. With the coronavirus, he estimates it’s about 15 percent.
“This is the most battle-hardened FEMA and emergency management division that ever existed,” Long said.
FEMA is cross-training staff to work through hurricane situations mindful of coronavirus, he said, stressing that disaster response is a local responsibility with FEMA there to fill in the gaps after county and state resources are exhausted.
He acknowledged that individual assistance may play a bigger role this hurricane season with so many people going into it unemployed, lacking the money to harden homes, buy supplies or pay for evacuations.
“When you have neighbor helping neighbor, non-profits, local, state and federal governments coming together, and the private sector, we tend to get through these things,” Long said about the potential for a coronavirus hurricane one-two punch. “We are resilient and we will get through it.”
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