During a special session called by Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah lawmakers passed a bill to address the issue of unmanned aircrafts interfering with wildfire management efforts, along with several other measures. In June, drones were spotted three times during a fire in Southwestern Utah, which led to the evacuation of 500 homes. Governor Herbert tweeted in response that “Evacuations could have been avoided if drones hadn’t interrupted air attack on the fire.”

Just like the head and tail of a coin, there are two sides to every disaster—providing help to those who need it and paying for that assistance. It’s a tug-of-war that’s becoming more contentious every year. Federal law requires assistance in times of disasters, but as threats grow in complexity—possible infrastructure failures, vulnerabilities from electromagnetic pulses and unforeseen consequences from hydraulic fracturing to name a few—the burden of marshalling the necessary resources and funding is an ongoing struggle.

It’s not just cold air slamming against warm that creates disasters. Disasters come from a variety of threats: rising rivers and unprecedented snowfalls, cyberattacks and infectious diseases. There are also other kinds of risks, such as inadequate budgets and shifting political sands. Regardless of the cause, the consequences are predictable and can be tragic. Disasters hurt people and property. They tear lives apart. They can make political careers or bring them to a screeching halt. Disasters can change the course of history. While disasters can be difficult and present challenges to a neighborhood, community, state and a nation, their impact can be mitigated through strong and decisive action. Often, the only thing standing between the worst outcomes and manageable ones are citizens and public officials who refuse to be helpless pawns or victims, but instead prepare for the inevitable, conduct a thorough response and develop together a well-thought out recovery that acknowledges evolving threats without fear.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina violently slammed into the Gulf Coast, leaving more than a million people in the Gulf Coast region displaced, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler is looking back and issuing a somber reminder to state officials: Make sure that your contingency planning for disasters includes elections.

Disasters demand attention. They don’t care about government shutdowns, continuing resolutions or sequestration. Political ideology and party partisanship are immaterial to them. Disasters also don’t discriminate. They occur in red states, in blue states and every shade in between. Borders drawn on a map make no difference. So, whether it’s a tornado in Moore, Okla., a chemical spill in West Virginia or wildfires in Colorado, there are undeniable realities when it comes to disasters. 1) They will occur. 2) Some people will need help. 3) Communities will want to recover. Because disasters can be arbitrary and capricious, the only way to truly manage them is to learn from the last one, while mitigating and preparing to the best of one’s ability for the next event. At the end of the day, that determines success or failure, life or death. For disasters, all the rest are just details.

NEMA is very proud to release the first-ever report tracing the history of EMAC and its impact on national mutual aid policy and operations. A state-driven solution, EMAC stands as a tested and proven success story and an example of what determined individuals can accomplish when working together to make a difference for the nation.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments supports the establishment of the Recognition of EMS Personnel Licensure Compact (REPLICA) and encourages its member jurisdictions to consider the new interstate agreement as an innovative policy solution to the challenge of interstate EMS personnel emergency and life-saving operations.

The Act provides civil liability protections to licensed professional engineers and licensed architects who voluntarily provide professional services at the request of officials during or after a declared emergency, disaster, or catastrophe; establishes limitations to liability protection; requires the Division of Emergency Management to promulgate administrative regulations.

The CSG West Canada Relations Committee discussed the Arctic Council and its importance to both the U.S. and Canada. Members also discussed how states and provinces play a role in mitigating the effects of climate change, as well as in emergencies such as fires and floods, independently and collaboratively through memorandums of understanding and compacts.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the mid-Atlantic and East Coast in late October 2012, it not only killed more than 200 people and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage. It altered the way this country manages disasters. Congress passed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 in late January. In addition to providing almost $51 billion for recovery and other projects, it amended the Stafford Act and key aspects of federal disaster assistance programs. Beyond the legislation, the hurricane also provoked debate on the underfunded National Flood Insurance Program, climate change and its impact on rising sea levels, the growing economic losses from disasters, community resiliency and rebuilding stronger versus not re-building at all. The country hasn’t witnessed this kind of national discourse related to a natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Yet even as these discussions took place, the harsh undercurrent of fiscal battles, partisan politics and citizens who require help persisted. Together, they have created an intense struggle that won’t be resolved any time soon.
 

Pages