FEMA strengthen disaster response through public-private partnership summit

February 5, 2024

Keynote address highlights importance of collaboration in disaster preparedness

Erik Hooks, the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), recently delivered a keynote speech at the FEMA Region 4’s 2024 Southeast Private-Public Partners Summit.

Held in Pearl, Mississippi, this event marked the first gathering of its kind since the onset of the pandemic, drawing nearly 200 attendees from state, local, and federal levels, alongside private sector participants.

The summit, which took place on January 31 and February 1, aimed to bolster the southeast’s readiness for, response to, and recovery from disasters through enhanced private-public partnerships.

“Businesses as Lifelines”: A focus on resilience and recovery

The conference theme, “Businesses as Lifelines,” underscored the critical role of the private sector in disaster management.

Emergency managers from over 30 companies, 11 nonprofits, several faith-based organizations, trade associations, universities, and nine state agencies across seven states participated.

Hooks praised the commitment of these partners, stating: “As partners, I always see you jumping in to lend your time, expertise, and resources to communities after disasters.

“You’re there with us, no matter the disaster, to help survivors get back on their feet.”

His speech emphasized the indispensable contribution of private and nonprofit sectors to swift and effective disaster response, highlighting the collective effort required to serve the nation better.

Enhancing coordination for improved disaster response

The summit facilitated in-depth discussions on supply chain disruptions, best practices, business continuity, and resilience, aiming to improve coordination and find solutions for challenges faced by emergency managers.

This engagement is crucial for faster and more efficient recovery efforts post-disaster.

Hooks’ remarks emphasized the collective responsibility in facing disasters, “Government cannot do it alone.

“We need you…We need everyone to pull a chair up to the table so we can better serve our nation.”

Deputy Administrator Hooks shared insights from his extensive experience in emergency management, including lessons learned from Hurricane Florence in North Carolina.

He highlighted the effectiveness of collaborative efforts between the government and private sector in mobilizing resources and ensuring the well-being of affected communities.

Hooks also pointed out the evolving challenges in cybersecurity, stressing the need for early involvement of private sector partners in devising solutions.

FSJA Comment

By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, the summit laid the groundwork for long-term resilience strategies.

The emphasis on collaboration, shared responsibility, and leveraging the strengths of both sectors reflects a comprehensive approach to safeguarding communities against an array of challenges, from natural disasters to cyber threats.

As disaster management evolves to meet new risks, the insights and relationships forged during this summit will undoubtedly contribute to more resilient and prepared communities.

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