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US National Governors Association releases guidance on managing natural disasters during pandemic conditions

The National Governors Association (NGA) has published ‘Planning for Concurrent Emergencies’, a memo outlining best practices for managing natural disasters during pandemic conditions, which create additional challenges in evacuation and sheltering protocols, as well as financial and logistical complications for states.

The NGA memo outlines considerations and possible actions for governors to use a ‘whole community’ approach, update and socialize emergency operations and continuity of operations plans, and message and enable individual preparedness for disasters.

The memo provides:

  • Actions for Governors Looking to Bolster Emergency Preparedness
  • An Overview of the Planning Considerations for Simultaneous Emergencies:
    - Emergency Powers and Authorities
    - Capacity of Response Systems
    - Complications for Evacuation and Sheltering
    - Resources and Supply Chain
    - Public Information and Warning.

Key points include:

  • Given the incredible financial strain on states posed by COVID-19, states may need to leverage federal grant programs to defray some emergency costs. For response and recovery, depending on the size, scope, and federally declared status, states may be able to utilize up to 90 different grant programs across nearly two dozen federal agencies.
  • COVID-19-specific precautions, such as social distancing requirements, may create unique challenges for otherwise well-practiced capabilities, such as evacuation and sheltering. Evacuations for hurricanes, for example, may need to be declared sooner to facilitate the orderly movement of people using personal vehicles instead of high-density transit options. Alternatives to congregate settings for evacuees will need to be considered.
  • With COVID-19 producing broad unemployment and recession-like conditions, many people may struggle to apply their limited financial resources to disaster preparedness activities. Governors can offer new financial incentives and remove regulatory barriers to help individuals prepare for natural disasters.
  • Governors may need to adjust their messaging strategies to reflect changing media consumption habits during the pandemic. Additionally, governors may need to communicate differently about risk management practices.

Read the memo (PDF).



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