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Emergency Preparedness & Continuity of Operations

Emergency Planning: Hurricane

Atlantic hurricane season is June through November, but as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes, there is nothing magical in these dates, and hurricanes have occurred outside of this six month period.

To be sure you're ready, grantees, especially those in coastal areas, should

  • Review and update emergency preparedness plans.
  • Review any general property, business interruption, and flood insurance policies to be sure they are current and provide sufficient coverage.
  • Understand what assistance may be available to certain private non-profit business in the event a disaster is declared.
    • State Emergency Management Agencies (EMA's) can help grantees understand, ahead of time, the assistance available to certain private non-profit business from their State Emergency Management Agencies and FEMA under the available public assistance and mitigation programs.
    • Locate and visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) established close to the impacted area after a disaster by using this on-line DRC locator: Information about assistance from several agencies may be available at the DRC including your State, FEMA, SBA, and USDA.
    • For grantees in predominantly rural areas, assistance in the form of emergency loans at below-market interest rates and even emergency grants may be available under the Rural Development Housing & Community Facilities Programs to private non-profit providers (PNPs) providing critical community services such as primary health care. Speak to the USDA respresentative at a DRC or contact your USDA Rural Development State Office.

  • Be familiar with the disaster assistance application process in the case a disaster declaration is made for a county in which you operate.
    • Attend the applicant briefing conducted by your State and be familiar with the deadlines for seeking assistance.
  • Consider mutual aid arrangements with other nearby grantees and develop working relationships with local and State emergency preparedness officials.
    • The first source of assistance is always local because of its proximity and rapid availability. Communities know best what their needs are and what local resources are available quickly. Plan ahead with local EMA officials — in an emergency, they will be your connection with State and Federal officials.
  • Familiarize yourself with potential sources of credentialed volunteer health personnel your State may request to assist you during emergencies.
  • Investigate pre-disaster hazard mitigation programs.
  • Help employees and patients to prepare.
When a Disaster Happens

Local resources are the first to come into play. When local resources are overwhelmed, your local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) will seek assistance from adjoining EMA's and, if necessary, from the State. If adjoining jurisdictions or the State can provide assistance, as is the case in most disasters, no request is made for Federal assistance. States can request assistance from each other through the congressionally ratified Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

Only when a disaster is large enough to overwhelm State resources does a Governor make a request for Federal assistance. A Governor first asks for joint State/Federal preliminary damage assessments (PDA's) for Public Assistance and/or Individual Assistance. If the damage is found to be significant the Governor may send a request to FEMA for a Presidential major disaster or emergency declaration. Grantees need to be sure their needs are assessed as part of this PDA process. If, in response to a gubernatorial request, the President issues a Stafford Act major disaster or emergency declaration for one or more counties within a State, Federal assistance is then available through FEMA.

By working with local and State EMA officials before a disaster, grantees can familiarize themselves with the procedures they may need to follow to make their needs part of the State's request to FEMA.

State EMA officials generally look to the State and local health department officials to assist them in assessing the medical needs within a community. Maintaining strong relationships with local and State health officials and educating them about the role HRSA grantees play in the community can be very helpful in facilitating future requests for assistance.

Planning to prevent, mitigate and respond to future disasters and work with local, State and Federal officials is the best way to be prepared for events we all hope never come to pass.

State & Local Agencies

State Emergency Management Agencies

State Health Departments

State Maternal & Child Health Directors

State Offices - USDA Rural Development