FEMA’s new 2018 National Preparedness Report confirms that numerous challenges remain despite efforts to counter the effects from natural and man-made disasters, presenting an incredibly difficult situation for those who work to keep American citizens and infrastructure safe.
In its seventh year, this report summarizes the nation’s progress toward becoming a more secure and resilient nation and highlights lessons learned from previous responses, along with findings from preparedness activities.
The events and activities captured in the report allow responders and emergency managers throughout the nation to better understand capabilities, identify shortfalls, and build capacity in preparation for future large-scale and catastrophic incidents.
The 2018 National Preparedness Report also identifies gains made in preparedness across the nation and identifies where challenges remain. These findings provide insights into preparedness and informs decisions about future program priorities, resource allocations, and community actions. The report considers select 2017 incidents including the California wildfires, the Nevada mass shooting, and hurricanes that tested the nation’s capabilities.
FEMA takes a revised approach that includes an in-depth analysis of five core capabilities that have been identified in past preparedness reports as persistent challenges: operational coordination, infrastructure systems, housing, economic recovery, and cybersecurity.
Operational Coordination: In 2017, 85 percent of states and territories rated the capability as a high priority in their State Preparedness Report submissions. Despite its identification as a high priority, State Preparedness Report results highlighted a decrease in the percentage of states and territories reporting proficiency in Operational Coordination each year from 2015 to 2017.
Infrastructure Systems: The National Preparedness Report has identified Infrastructure Systems as an area for improvement every year since 2012. Between the 2012 and 2017 State Preparedness Report submissions, 15 states and territories declined in proficiency, while 15 other states and territories improved. State Preparedness Report results also highlight a decrease in the percentage of states and territories reporting proficiency in Infrastructure Systems each year from 2015 to 2017. The report finds that the whole community has taken steps to improve the resilience of infrastructure, but challenges remain.
Housing: In 2017, 53 percent of states and territories viewed housing as mostly or entirely a federal responsibility, up from 41 percent in 2014. While some federal resources exist to support state, tribal, territorial, and local governments to implement disaster housing, many federally funded programs are temporary in nature and limited in amount and application. There is a clear need for a flexible and collaborative approach to housing recovery that incorporates partners from the whole community.
At the federal level, agencies are exploring ways to improve their support to state, tribal, territorial, and local governments with disaster housing. In early 2017, FEMA launched the Housing Assistance Initiative to enhance housing capabilities across jurisdictions and explore flexible housing solutions that align to the needs of local communities. FEMA is planning to assess the impact of the initiative in the near future.
Economic Recovery: This capability focuses on the ability to return a community’s economy to a healthy state following the impact of disasters or emergencies. Between the 2012 and 2017 State Preparedness Report submissions, 17 states and territories declined in proficiency, while 15 states and territories improved. The FEMA report find that recently, State Preparedness Report results show a slight increase in the percentage of states and territories reporting proficiency in Economic Recovery from 2016 to 2017. It notes however that many small businesses lack sufficient continuity plans. Efforts are also required to address challenges concerning communication between communities and the private sector.
Cybersecurity: Since 2012, states and territories have consistently reported Cybersecurity as their least-proficient capability. Between the 2012 and 2017 State Preparedness Report submissions, 16 states and territories declined in proficiency, while 13 improved. One of the report’s key findings in the realm of cybersecurity was the insufficient information sharing between the public and private sectors, which has hindered the nation’s effectiveness in defending against cyber threats. While the sector continues to face recruitment and retention challenges, the report notes that improvements have been made in the area of cybersecurity training.