With snow storms in New England, active threat events, and cyber-attacks across the country, and a new Strategic Plan for FEMA, March has been particularly busy. We hope you enjoy our take on the latest events in the emergency management space. We’ll continue to curate news about innovations, advancements in technology, and groundbreaking practices, but if you’re not interested in receiving future issues, just click here to unsubscribe. Enjoy these blurbs (and any of our past issues), and we’ll meet you in your inbox next month.
At Hagerty, we work on active shooter preparedness every day, so we know that these events are possible, even in our own backyard. However, that didn’t stop us from feeling shock and dismay last week, when Hagerty’s Evanston headquarters received reports of an active shooter on Northwestern University’s campus. As we heard the news, our HQ implemented lockdown procedures and ensured all Evanston professionals who were not in the office were safely sheltered in place. Luckily, the incident turned out to be a hoax, but it served as an all too real reminder of the immediacy of active threat events in today’s America. As Mayor of Evanston and our President, Steve Hagerty, said in response to this incident, “I’ve worked in emergency management for 24 years, and I’ve seen first-hand the value of being prepared.” Experts, including the Department of Homeland Security, agree that we must prepare as a nation for these incidents. Some experts believe that a public health approach should be taken towards shootings by diagnosing and treating “school climate.” Others, however, wonder whether or not certain types of preparedness, such as active shooter drills performed by students, could be detrimental to students’ physical and emotional health.
FEMA’s Strategic Plan
FEMA recently released the Agency’s 2018-2022 strategic plan, which details the Agency’s goals and overall vision for their organization for the next five years. National media and members of the emergency management community have responded to the plan’s release in various ways. Some have remarked that the words “Climate Change” have been dropped while others have responded with their own suggestions for how to improve the nation’s emergency management efforts. We at Hagerty agree with the Government Technology and Services Coalition, this plan reads as a plan for the nation to truly embrace the Whole Community approach mindset. We are excited to be a part of that mission and look forward to “sharing the responsibility.”
Several events recently have emphasized the importance of cybersecurity and resiliency. A cyberattack in Saudi Arabia–that not only could have disrupted operations but also caused a deadly explosion–has investigators fearing copy cats. Similarly, the US believes that Russia recently organized cyberattacks that targeted power plants and nuclear facilities. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, key government systems were shut down in a massive ransomware attack. These events spotlight the importance of cybersecurity; attackers can disrupt both virtual and kinetic systems–causing disruptions to daily life–making it even more important for an organization to be protected and prepared.
With summer just around the corner and the start of the 2018 hurricane season with it, it seems the perfect time for the country and the nation’s emergency managers to reflect on the 2017 hurricane season. At the Preparedness, Response, and Rebuilding: Lessons from the 2017 Disasters meeting of the House Homeland Security Committee , various stakeholders were able to share their lessons learned. Reed Clay, the Texas Governor’s Chief Operating Officer, emphasized that the way Texas responded to Hurricane Harvey should be “a model going forward for the nation.” However, he and others echoed the sentiment that disaster response should be “outcome focused, not process oriented.” While we’re just beginning to learn from these events, the emergency management community will hopefully continue to gain lessons from them into the future, just as we’re still learning from Hurricane Katrina and other events about what factors make some survivors more resilient than others.
The saying “when it rains, it pours” seems to prove true, especially with regards to America’s flooding problem. According to a recent study, 28 million Americans live in flood zones without knowing it. New Orleans is all too aware of this situation; while the City has been equipped with the “strongest” environmental protection of any city in America, engineers believe that it still may not prove enough to protect NOLA from future storms. With increasing concerns about flooding, Florida residents have been encouraged to buy flood insurance. Texans have been especially proactive after the historic flooding of 2017; Houston has won a substantial grant to put in high-water warning systems, which will help drivers avoid dangerous flooding, and, like Floridians, Texas residents have responded by upping their insurance.
Even though it’s almost Easter, it seems the Northeastern US won’t be enjoying spring weather anytime soon. A fourth nor’easter hit New England this month, and a recent study shows they may only become more severe and frequent in coming seasons. If you’ve ever wondered what a nor’easter is, then you’re probably not from Boston. These storms are commonly known for bringing large amounts of snow to regional areas, but they also have an important role in maintaining the earth’s temperature.