City and county managers play a leadership role in emergency management and understand the importance of a networked approach to ensure that communities are well prepared and able to respond and recover in the event of a disaster. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the ICMA Executive Board took action to promote changes in the nation’s emergency management system. ICMA held a Leading Practices Conference on emergency management in January 2006 and a Restoration Conference in New Orleans in May 2006. ICMA leadership has met with federal and state officials to promote changes in the emergency management system.
ICMA advocates the establishment of region-based teams of federal, state, and local employees that can be deployed without delay to places where assistance is needed. The recovery and restoration phases require a wide array of talent, well beyond first responders. The goal is to develop a model to identify assets and certify, train, and deploy local government response teams for all phases of a disaster.
For the system to work well, federal agencies must be restructured and federal processes must be aligned for clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Process improvements are also needed in the Emergency Management Assistance Compact so that local government teams can be deployed without delay. ICMA advocates the creation of a disaster assistance structure that relies on a sophisticated database as well as a network of partnerships among cities and counties.