How Do Local and Federal Governments Work Together in a Disaster?

To handle natural disaster management, local government officials work with their state and federal counterparts by sharing data and resources. Together they are creating new partnerships and best practices to ensure America’s safety. Because the government is accountable for most of the emergency management in the instance of a disaster or terrorist event, working with all levels of government is even more important. Learning about these collaborations is part of the coursework in an online Bachelor of General Studies: Disaster Science and Emergency Management degree program.

FEMA Publishes Preparedness Guidelines — eBook

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Preparedness System has a National Planning Framework, created in 2008, in response to the criticism it received following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. The Framework is an electronic, living document designed to improve cooperation and communication with local government as well as state government officials. The following are the Framework’s five preparedness divisions:

  1. Prevention.
  2. Protection.
  3. Mitigation.
  4. Response.
  5. Recovery.

The agency updated three of the framework’s divisions — mitigation, response to disasters and prevention — in 2013. Each framework outlines “whole-of-community efforts to address the five mission areas, and summarizes the roles and responsibilities of those involved,” according to The Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation.

In 2014, experts in disaster research and emergency management published their insights on many natural disaster management issues in Critical Issues in Disaster Science and Management: A Dialogue Between Researchers and Practitioners, an ebook published by the FEMA Higher Education Program. Edited by Tony Subbio, CEM, MS, and the University of Delaware’s Joseph E. Trainor Ph.D., the book closes the gap between academics and practitioners in the emergency management field.

Ultimately, these FEMA-supported resources help reduce the load on overburdened local governments and help local and federal governments work together to reduce the fallout from disasters.

Next Steps: A Way Forward

Every day, emergency management officials across the country face decisions about natural disaster management. They have to deal with personnel and budget shortages as well as concerns about the next big disaster. Bringing in other organizations such as local nongovernmental, community and faith-based groups will boost limited resources and streamline coordination efforts, according to Ronald Angel Ph.D., a professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Austin. He writes the following in Texas Perspectives:

  • Not all problems will be addressed in most large-scale crises.
  • Coordination with multiple agencies, officials and the general public is a must.
  • Local governments and their state counterparts should keep their emergency plan updated, at all times.
  • Bring in other community groups to ensure sufficient natural disaster management.
  • Create an ongoing publicity campaign to promote helpful emergency management information online.
  • Encourage citizens to prepare for disasters.
  • Have regular rehearsals with a massive number of responders across various levels.
  • Beef up the communication from local governments to state capitals all the way up to Washington.
  • Start preparing now for the next disaster.

Accelerate Your Emergency Management Future

Every level of government, along with private and public sector organizations and nonprofits, needs highly trained emergency management professionals. Not only is such an in-demand career rewarding because you are helping protect the country, but it also provides other benefits such as specialized training and technological skills. Expand your horizons with the online Bachelor of General Studies: Disaster Science and Emergency Management degree.

Learn about the Louisiana State University of Alexandria online BGS in Disaster Science & Emergency Management program.


UT News: 10 Years After Katrina, We Still Need Better Coordination, Especially in Texas

FEMA Higher Education Program: Critical Issues in Disaster Science and Management

Arthur D. Simons Center: FEMA Releases Disaster Response Frameworks

The New York Times: U.S. Alters Its Approach to Disasters

Washington Post: The Federal Response To Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned

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