FEMA Region III Hosts Response, Recovery Summit

Region III’s response and recovery personnel met with their state counterparts recently in the Philadelphia regional office. With an eye on the current storm season, the group charted its course for dealing with the damaging effects of Mother Nature.

“We are here to discuss how we can improve our past performance in order to respond effectively to the many disaster declarations that are sure to come this hurricane season,” said Patricia Arcuri, acting regional director of Region III, during her opening remarks.”

Since 2003, Region III has received 25 disaster declarations, affecting every state in the region plus the District of Columbia. Hurricane Isabel hit with a vengeance on Sept. 18, 2003, followed by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan on Sept. 17, 2004. Both of these hurricanes caused extensive damage to the Mid-Atlantic States, resulting in many declarations and unprecedented levels of work and challenges.

During the three-day meeting, those challenges were discussed in breakout sessions, with the state emergency management directors meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s senior management. Attendees were briefed on the National Incident Management System, National Response Plan, Incident Reporting, and response/recovery processes. Presentations were also given by Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, Mitigation and External Affairs.

The final day of the summit featured a panel discussion lead by Federal Coordinating Officers Lou Botta and Tom Davies, who discussed lessons learned and best practices from past disasters.

“I was extremely pleased with the results of our first summit,” said Arcuri. “It provided an excellent opportunity to openly discuss issues in the overall disaster process and examine what we need to do as a team to move forward.”