Emergency Management Assistance Compact

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.

Almost 60 years of federal record-keeping passed before this country reached its highest number of major disaster declarations, 81 in 2010. It took only one more year to shatter that record, with 99 in 2011. State emergency management handled the growing number of events even as the average operating budget slid for the second year in a row. While Congressional scrutiny over federal spending persisted in Washington, D.C., state emergency management showed the initiative and proposed a substantial restructuring of related federal grants, one that promotes flexibility and accountability. The backdrop to all of this is national elections, which can turn every issue—including better preparation for the next disaster in order to save lives and protect property—into a political football.