31-May-2018 - Last year’s historic hurricane season was a true test of the nation’s ability to respond to, and recover from, three near-simultaneous catastrophic hurricanes followed by the California wildfires. The impacts of these storms and the wildfires cannot be overstated. About 47 million people were affected by these events, or roughly 15% of the entire U.S. population.
FEMA will always work tirelessly to support state, local, tribal and territorial partners to respond to and recover from disasters. FEMA is not a first responder; disasters are state managed, locally executed and federally supported. Our role is to support local governments following a disaster only after their capacity to respond has been exceeded. That support most often takes the form of coordinating federal resources into a unified response and handing out massive amounts of grants to fund recovery efforts.
FEMA works in close partnership with state and local jurisdictions before, during and after a disaster to save lives, often including operational support to state and local search and rescue teams. For example, this may also include deploying U.S. Health and Human Services, Department of Defense or other federal resources to assist local jurisdictions.
The actual counting of disaster-related fatalities is the responsibility of local jurisdictions, not FEMA. With respect to Puerto Rico or any disaster, FEMA and its federal partners will continue to support governors with their outcome-driven recovery goals.
All segments of society, from individuals to governments to the private sector, have an important role to play to build resilience and a true culture of preparedness across the nation. My personal request to all Americans is to establish a plan, check their insurance, and be prepared: Citizens are often the true first responders.
For more information on how you can be prepared, go to Ready.gov.
Brock Long is administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Source: USA Today