Having established a national framework for emergency response and having instituted a common nationwide system for incident management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reassessing an element of its mission that may be less urgent but no less complex: long-term recovery.
The push to establish a National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) is a departure from many earlier policy efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FEMA’s parent agency.
Since DHS’s establishment, state and local partners have complained of policy handed down “from on high” without input. By contrast, NDRF development began last year with establishment of the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group, a partnership between the White House, DHS, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The working group held 16 meetings around the country to hear stakeholders’ approaches to recovery and their needs before recently issuing a draft.
Moreover, the words “terror,” “attack,” and related forms are nowhere to be found in the 58-page draft, an omission that reflects DHS’s ongoing shift toward an “all hazards” approach to emergency management. Two years ago stakeholders welcomed the NDRF’s counterpart, the National Response Framework (NRF), following the failures of Hurricane Katrina. They complained, however, that it still focused too heavily on terrorism at the expense of an all-hazards approach.