Preparing for a Natural Disaster During the Pandemic

As local governments continue COVID-19 recovery operations, new emergencies emerge--from flooding to hurricane season. Here are some resources to help you prepare.

By Ellen Foreman | May 20, 2020 | BLOG POST
staff preparing for hurricane during pandemic

News of breached dams in Michigan, killer cyclones in Asia, and an early tropical storm season brewing in the Atlantic comes as local government leaders have been working tirelessly to respond to and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. On a daily basis, we are reminded of the critical role local governments play in emergency preparedness and recovery. Here is a round up of some new and existing resources that may be helpful in preparing for emergencies and disasters on the horizon. 

  • FEMA has released new operational guidance to help local government leaders better prepare for the 2020 hurricane season, as well as all-hazards disasters, while continuing to respond to and recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 
  • This ICMA Leading Edge Research Report, Leadership Before, During, and After a Crisis covers the common and effective leadership and management skills and techniques that professional managers deploy when a crisis strikes. 
  • There are more than 200 guides, reports, case studies, and articles in the ICMA topics area for Emergencies and Disasters. 

While individuals are encouraged to prepare their own households, local governments have major responsibilities in preparing the community for natural disasters. Since local leaders know their communities best and can usually respond the fastest, it’s especially crucial that municipalities have a plan in place for emergencies rather than waiting for outside help. Local leaders need to juggle everything from communications challenges to expense accounting for federal or state reimbursement. Here are a few examples of what other local governments are doing to educate and prepare their communities for the natural disasters that may strike their region:

In addition to preparing the general public, it is especially important for local governments to make special provisions for those in the community who may have more difficulty preparing or evacuating. In Broward County, Florida, the community adopted a Vulnerable Population Registry. First responders use the registry after a disaster to help help locate those who may need extra assistance. One great community resource that has been expanding nationwide is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). This blog post, Local Government Drives Disaster Coordination with Volunteers, looks at the how to harness the power of volunteers in a crisis. 

Here is some hurricane-specific content on the ICMA website that remains relevant as you plan for 2020 disaster management. 


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