Thursday, September 08, 2005

Federal, State, and Local Relationships in Emergency Planning and Response

An article on Tuesday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette helps to clarify the relationship between local, state, and federal agencies in responding to an emergency.

The key to emergency management starts at the local level and expands to the state level. Emergency planning generally does not include any federal guarantees, as there can only be limited ones from the federal level for any local plan. FEMA provides free training, education, assistance and respond in case of an emergency, but the local and state officials run their own emergency management program.

Prior development of an emergency plan, addressing all foreseeable contingencies, is the absolute requirement of the local government --and then they share that plan with the state emergency managers to ensure that the state authorities can provide necessary assets not available at the local level. Additionally, good planning will include applicable elements of the federal government (those located in the local area). These processes are well established, but are contingent upon the personal drive of both hired and elected officials at the local level.

The author takes a specific look at the New Orleans emergency response plan.

I've reviewed the New Orleans emergency management plan. Here is an important section in the first paragraph.

"We coordinate all city departments and allied state and federal agencies which respond to citywide disasters and emergencies through the development and constant updating of an integrated multi-hazard plan. All requests for federal disaster assistance and federal funding subsequent to disaster declarations are also made through this office. Our authority is defined by the Louisiana Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993, Chapter 6 Section 709, Paragraph B, 'Each parish shall maintain a Disaster Agency which, except as otherwise provided under this act, has jurisdiction over and serves the entire parish.' "

Check the plan -- the "we" in this case is the office of the mayor, Ray Nagin who was very quick and vocal about blaming everyone but his own office.

As Irish Pennants comments, "Would that journalists would acquaint themselves with disaster management procedure before mouthing off." I second that.

As you evaluate the adequacy (inadequacy is probably more accurate) of the response to the disaster in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, consider the roles of the local, state, and federal agencies.


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