Governors’ Reimagining Models of Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

At the 2024 NGA Winter Meeting, Hawai‘i Governor Josh Green and Vermont Governor Phil Scott, Co-Chair’s of NGA’s Public Health and Disaster Response Task Force, hosted a discussion on how largescale emergencies continue to threaten national and state response systems.

Governors were joined for the discussion by Colt Hagmaier, Assistant Administrator from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA); Dr. Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary of The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); and Jennifer Enderlin, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility from AT&T and board member for SBP.

Throughout the conversation, panelists addressed the complexities of disaster response by analyzing multiple system integration needs across the nation. 

Colt Hagmaier provided insight on the national infrastructure for emergency management and best practices for Governors to implement when experiencing disasters.

Dr. Delphin-Rittmon highlighted ways in which disasters can impact behavioral health, physical well-being and the mental health of survivors. The Secretary also presented various SAMHSA resources and grant opportunities available to states pertaining to crisis counseling, emergency response and child traumatic stress.

Jennifer Enderlin shared emerging technologies being utilized for communications and disaster forecasting and highlighted public/private partnerships available to reduce recovery time for residential infrastructure in disaster areas.

Throughout the discussion, Governor Green and Governor Scott shared their experiences managing disasters in their states and offered perspectives, responsibilities and best practices for Governors before, during and after disasters.

“No matter the situation or emergency, Governors know we need to be prepared in our states and prepared to lead because you never know when the next anvil is going to fall from the sky,” Governor Scott stated.“We’re all in this together, regardless of party. Every state is impacted … It’s essential that other Governors understand that as well and [know] that we’re here as a resource.”

“Achieve balance in your states. If you don’t achieve balance in housing, in preparedness, in advanced resources – and have advanced resources in a revenue stream – you will suffer the consequences,” said Governor Green. “Get that balance in place and have your recovery team in place early because it will save you a lot of challenges midstream with the disaster. If we don’t, [achieve balance,] we’re going to pay a lot more for it later in terms of all resources – human and capitol.”

The work discussed throughout the meeting will continue to build with the Public Health and Disaster Response Task Force’s 2024 federal priorities.

Watch the full session below.