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Feds Invite State and Local Agencies to Take Part in Disaster Exercise

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's latest National Level Exercise will take place April 30 to May 11.

Federal authorities are inviting state and local government agencies and others to participate in a multi-day disaster planning exercise that is scheduled to begin later this month.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced this week that the 2018 National Level Exercise, held every other year, will run from April 30 to May 11. This year's exercise will involve a scenario where a hurricane makes landfall near Hampton Roads, Virginia, a region that includes the cities of Norfolk and Newport News.

There are multiple ways that state and local agencies can participate in the exercise, which is open nationally.

For instance, emergency management agencies in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia plan to activate their state emergency operations centers and to bring in staff to fill positions, according to a FEMA spokesperson.

Other options for participating might include activities like reviewing hurricane plans, or setting up a facility to distribute supplies.

The National Exercise Program began after passage of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006, legislation that followed Hurricane Katrina, a 2005 storm that devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast.

In 2016, the exercise involved testing the nation's abilities to prevent terrorist acts, and to coordinate a response to a catastrophic incident. The 2014 scenario featured an earthquake and tsunami.

State and local agencies that take part in the exercise don't have to participate for the entire duration. They can choose to only take part for a day, or a stretch of days. Businesses, utilities, nonprofits, and individuals also have options to participate.

Last year, three hurricanes—Maria, Harvey and Irma—delivered major blows to the United States. Puerto Rico and parts of Texas and Florida were among the places that were hardest hit by the storms.

The 2018 hurricane season will begin June 1.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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