Possible Effects of EPA Budget Cuts

From the Conversation website: In planned EPA cuts, US to lose vital connection to at-risk communities.

The Trump budget calls for slashing the EPA budget by an estimated 31 percent. Staff would be reduced by 25 percent and 50 programs could see cuts, such as ones designed to lower the health risks from lead paint.

In all likelihood, the first communities to feel effects of a dismantled EPA are those who consistently pay the biggest price when policy strays from being focused on people. It will be the indigenous people, the populations who live in poverty and at-risk communities – often populated by people of color – who typically feel the sharp cuts and public health effects first and fully.

FEMA Releases Updated National Planning Frameworks

Details from FEMA:

Today, FEMA and its partners released the updated National Planning Frameworks for each mission area: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery. The National Planning Frameworks, which are part of the National Preparedness System, set the strategy and doctrine for building, sustaining, and delivering the core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal of building a secure and resilient nation.
The Frameworks present a paradigm shift in the way we approach preparedness through a risk-driven, capabilities-based approach. Historically, preparedness was considered a separate, distinct mission area; but now the Frameworks address national preparedness as a whole, through the core capabilities that compose the five mission areas.

National preparedness is a shared responsibility—everyone has a role to play to ensure that our nation can address its greatest risks. FEMA supports the mission of strengthening the security and resilience of the nation by working to improve the ability of all to manage incidents, events and emergencies. The Frameworks do this by creating a shared understanding about how we, as a nation, coordinate, share information, and work together to achieve our missions, as well as define our roles and responsibilities from the fire house to the White House.

Recognizing the need for an all-of-Nation approach to preparedness, and an open and transparent government, input was gathered from the public, stakeholders and all levels of government. FEMA received thousands of comments during the various review and comment periods. As a result, the Frameworks offer practical, real-life examples of things people are doing to keep our nation safe and resilient.

The updated National Planning Frameworks also incorporate critical edits from the National Preparedness Goal refresh, including updated core capabilities, lessons learned from real world events and continuing implementation of the National Preparedness System, including an increased emphasis on cyber threats, and updates on the roles and responsibilities of coordinating structures in each mission area. The updated Frameworks also align with new policies and directives, such as PPD-21, Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, and EO 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

FEMA is hosting a series of engagement webinars to highlight key changes to the Frameworks and to answer questions participants may have. All webinars are open to the whole community, including individuals and communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations and all governments.
For a copy of the document, summary of changes, and webinar registration information visit: http://www.fema.gov/national-planning-frameworks. For more information on national preparedness efforts, visit: http://www.fema.gov/national-preparedness.

See also the comments from readers that follow this announcement from FEMA.

New GAO Report on Disaster Recovery Framework

Hot off the presses, this report on Disaster Recovery from the GAO. As the Diva noted a few days ago, the Frontline TV Show featured the huge problems with recovery and with the National Flood Insurance Program after Hurricane Sandy. One would expect that the show would have generated a lot of scrutiny. But as we all know a GAO takes many months to complete. So it is an interesting coincidence that this report was released today.

Disaster Recovery: FEMA Needs to Assess Its Effectiveness in Implementing the National Disaster Recovery Framework. Report is 45 pages. GAO-16-476: Published: May 26, 2016.

For those of you as impatient as the Diva, the first 16 pages of the report describe what should happen, and then on pages 17 -30 the report digs into what actually happened and the problems identified. The conclusions and recommendations for action are on pages 30 and 31.

Citizen Pressure Yields Changes in NFIP Implementation

From a local paper in NJ: FEMA agrees to major changes, Sandy victims may benefit. Interesting account of citizen pressure on FEMA to fix the NFIP.

After weeks of criticism from Sandy victims, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reversed course Friday and agreed to a series of flood-insurance reforms that advocates say should benefit victims.

Loss of EM Research Institutes

As someone who has been a researcher, educator, and consultant in the emergency management field, the Diva is especially pained to hear of closing of  EM education and training organizations in first world countries. I find it truly tragic that short-sighted budget concerns will affect the emergency management community at a time when global climate and weather threats, to name just a few, are  growing larger and more serious. I truly rue the loss of knowledge acquisition and the improvement of practice in the EM field.

The latest training institute to be cut is in Australia.  See Federal Budget 2014: Mount Macedon’s Australian Emergency Management Institute to close. Last year Canada closed its EM training organization.

Here in the U.S. we saw some budget tightening moves in 2013 at the Emergency Management Institute, which is the training academy for FEMA and DHS,  Last year EMI cancelled a long-standing annual conference for the Higher Education in Emergency Management community. Fortunately, the conference will take place this year and the institution appears to be continuing with no threat of closure.


Thanks to Franklin MacDonald for the Australian citation.


Another Call for Safe Rooms and Mitigation

Shortly after the tornadoes in Moore, media from all over the nation, as well as many professional associations, are adamant in their call for some mitigative measures so that the repetitive losses of life and property are reduced.  Since the means to do so are known, what is needed is the political will– something lacking so far in OK  None of us wants to watch while children are trapped in their schools and people buried in their homes, if it can be avoided.

From the Post Gazette (Pitsburgh), an editorial of interest: After the Storm; Safe Rooms Need to be mandated in Perilous Places. A few excepts follow; my favorites are highlighted in red:

As always in times of disaster, the humanitarian response of the American people was heart-warming. But the heart must now heed the head. There are obvious lessons that need to be taken if the wells of sympathy are not to be depleted.

Some 24 people were killed by the tornado, including seven 8- and 9-year-old students at Moore’s Plaza Elementary School — a school that had no safe room, just as most of the 1,200 homes damaged and destroyed did not. That is stupid to the point of scandalous. Oklahoma is situated in Tornado Alley and people are accustomed to the danger. According to the National Weather Service, Moore and its environs have seen at least 22 tornadoes killing more than 100 people since 1893.

The state is conservative and fear of overreaching government power is part of the culture. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it goes only as far as it affects other Americans whose tax dollars go to help places like Moore recover.

It rankles that Oklahoma’s U.S. senators, James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, have voted against federal funding for other disaster relief, including for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Yes, they had their reasons — concerns for wasteful federal spending and deficits — but a day of reckoning comes for ingrate behavior. In Moore, it came in a terrifying funnel cloud.

Political ideology should have been blown away in this storm. State and local governments in areas at risk should insist on safe rooms, at least in all new construction. The cost might be high, but so is the cost of repetitive tragedy. It is said that God helps those who help themselves; federal aid ought to be predicated on it.