State-Managed Disasters: An Interview with Arizona's Director of Emergency Management


...technical assistance, within three to four years?

Smith-Reeve: I honestly don’t even know how to answer that, because I don’t know what others would say would be an appropriate structure for their state. We’ve identified what the appropriate structure is here in Arizona, but it took us awhile to get there. You have to be able to scale up or down based on the size of events that impact your state. These events determine what your structure needs to be. So, do you build a cadre capability internal to your agency, or do you look at the authorities within your state statutes? For example, Arizona’s state statute says that when the governor declares a disaster, the Director of Emergency Management is given the authority to utilize all resources available within the state enterprise. I then have the ability to outreach to any of the other departments and divisions within the state enterprise and garner those personnel resources by reallocating subject matter experts to support this program.

One of the things that we need to look at as an industry is where do we have the capability within our enterprise systems? It doesn’t have to be individuals who are employed specifically by your agency, but does the state emergency manager have the flexibility and capability of accessing those resources from those other areas of subject matter expertise that you need in order to accomplish the task. For example, if I have a lot of Category C road work, why can I not just tap into the engineers at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support outlining the damage description, scope of work and the costs associated with restoration of the road?We could have DOT engineers working directly with the public works department for that jurisdiction to create a quality project worksheet. I shouldn’t have to have those resources specifically here within Emergency Management. I just have to have the ability to access those personnel resources within the enterprise. I think there are ways to be creative in how we get to the solution that have yet to be considered.

Craig: If FEMA or if Administrator Long wanted to put this mandate on the states to handle $40 million to $50 million disasters, would it be reasonable to say that his regional office really needs to take an inventory of everyone’s capabilities, including legislative authorities and states that have disaster funding streams they currently use? Say you use a state disaster fund, other states have that, but not nearly all of them. Would that be a good first step to get IAEM (International Association of...

BeaverDamFlood,2010;Photo courtesyofDavidBly,DesertValleyTimes