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FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINISTRATION

Int'l - What Corporate Executives Can Learn From How FEMA Prepares For Disasters

Business leaders who want to prepare for a crisis or update their crisis management plans could learn a lot from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).

Business leaders who want to prepare for a crisis or update their crisis management plans could learn a lot from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). In the past 14 months alone the agency responded to 130 major disaster declarations involving the Covid pandemic, winter storms, landslides, an earthquake, and thousands of unescorted minors at the southern U.S. border.

The Washington Post reported this morning that President Joe Biden, “... plans to visit the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he is scheduled to receive a briefing on the Atlantic Ocean hurricane outlook ahead of the official June 1 start of the season. While there, Biden plans to announce he’s doubling the money the U.S. government will spend helping communities prepare for extreme weather events.”

Since 1991, FEMA it has worked on more than 2,200 declared disasters and emergencies according to Clifford Oliver, a former FEMA assistant administrator who retired last month after a 30-year career at the agency. He shared with me his observations and insights on how FEMA prepares for a crisis and what companies can learn from the U.S. government’s approach to crisis situations.

In The Trenches

Oliver knows what it’s like to be in the trenches of crisis management. He worked in the field in various technical staff and management positions, including serving as the deputy federal coordinating officer, which is the President’s official representative.  

In Washington, he filled a broad range of roles and coordinated field activities that provided temporary housing assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina, conducted field investigations into the safety of buildings after disasters, and ensured the continuation of essential services in communities after a crisis. He is now a principal at Nanticoke Global Strategies, a public safety consulting firm.

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