The private sector should be engaged early and often in preparing for and responding to natural disasters like hurricanes, the top U.S. emergency management official says.
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), says governmental emergency management teams should work inclusively with all partners to meet the needs of the whole community when responding to and recovering from disasters.
Addressing participants at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Fugate discussed the work that federal, state, local and tribal governments, and voluntary organizations do on a regular basis in preparation each year. He also focused his remarks on the importance of engaging the private sector early and often.
“We need to give the private sector a seat at the table,” said Fugate. “When we look at the disasters last year, the unreported story was how the private sector was a part of the recovery team. The sooner we can get private businesses — and government-backed infrastructure — up and running, the sooner communities will recover.”
Administrator Fugate reminded participants to never lose sight of the fact that the impacts of hurricanes are wide-ranging.
“Last year proved that the effects of hurricanes can impact areas beyond just the coast,” said Fugate. “As we look to 2012 we need to work together as a team, with all our partners, the private sector and the public to ensure that communities are prepared no matter where tropical storms impact.”
Fugate encouraged those in attendance to plan beyond hurricane season.
“We have to stop planning for the past storm,” said Fugate. “We have to be look forward and plan for all-hazards — understanding the current threats before us and what vulnerabilities we have.”
The National Hurricane Conference seeks to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in an effort to protect lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific. In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve emergency management.