One of the silver linings of having a disaster virtually every year from 1993 to 2015 is that you have a battle rhythm that’s built. Some of that training happens organically because you’re bringing your reservists in every single year to actually execute — so less training in the interim is required.
A lot of the mitigation measures that we’ve put in place over the last two decades are really starting to lessen both the quantity and impact that we’re seeing from disasters. That’s a great thing, but subsequently we’re having fewer disaster declarations, so those three things I mentioned will continue to be both challenges and opportunities. However, training, staffing and sustaining capabilities are the biggest challenges.
Andrews: Since North Dakota has conducted each disaster as state-managed from the onset of its implementation back in 2001, what are some of the benefits you have seen on the state, local and federal levels?
Schulz: By far the biggest benefit has been the quality of customer service that we can provide to our applicants, our constituents. Having local hires doing site inspections and writing project worksheets, they understand the geography, the geology, the culture, so they can do things at a higher level of quality and frankly, more efficiently. The other thing that we see as a huge benefit is the relationships. This works both from local to federal or from local to state, and from state to federal. By doing these things and having a shared understanding, trust is built, as are strong relationships.
Andrews: As a state that has conducted state-managed disasters even before the State-Led Public Assistance Guide was released, how did North Dakota prepare for and manage taking on the additional roles and responsibilities that came with state-led? Do you see any changes being made in how you implement state-led disasters now that this guide has been released, or if not, why?
Schulz: So, how did we prepare for managing these things in the past? I think it’s very important to create subject matter experts within your regular staff. You’re never able to fully staff with the quantity of employees needed to execute during a disaster. So you have to use some...