FEMA Report Spotlights Emergency Management Challenges

United States experienced a total of $20 billion climate and weather-related disasters in 2021.   January 9, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

From wildfires and floods to hurricanes and tornadoes, maintenance and engineering managers have never had to plan for a wider range of threats to their facilities. Now, a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paints a stark picture of the size and scope of the resilience challenges managers face. 

FEMA's 2022 National Preparedness Report reveals the impacts that climate change and associated natural disasters continue to have on emergency management capabilities and communities across the country. The report summarizes the state of national preparedness, discussing the risks the nation faces and the way those risks drive whole-community emergency management capability requirements. The report includes the following findings, among others: 

  • Climate change continues to impact the nation and worsen existing vulnerabilities. The report found that in 2021, 92 percent of communities identified at least one natural hazard associated with climate change as being most stressful to emergency management capabilities in their assessments. The United States experienced a total of $20 billion climate and weather-related disasters. 
  • The nation might not be adequately prepared to provide sufficient Body Recovery/Storage and Medical Care in the face of a catastrophic disaster. When comparing total Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment and Stakeholder Preparedness Review (data from 2021 against the national capability targets, the nation overall has the lowest capability in the body recovery/storage and medical care target areas. 
  • Factors such as poverty, lack of access to transportation and over-capacity housing occupancy continue to weaken the ability of individuals and communities to prevent injury, death and financial loss in a disaster. 

This year’s report presents preparedness data through the lens of risks and capabilities and underscores the challenges that emergency managers face in addressing a continuously expanding risk environment, the ingenuity they have shown to rise to those challenges and opportunities that remain to better prepare the nation. Emergency managers and whole-community partners across the nation can use the report to help support decisions about program priorities, resource allocations and community actions. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 25 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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