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Episode 90: The Role of Individuals and Local Government in Disaster Preparedness with Former FEMA Administrator Brock Long

While FEMA is the first organization mentioned when a disaster hits a community, there is actually a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of state and local governments to prepare their communities. In this episode, Brock Long is sharing his expertise on FEMA’s role in disaster recovery, how state and local governments can better support and prepare their communities, and how to build individual resilience that you might need to support your neighbors in a crisis.

Long is the former administrator of FEMA and a 20-year veteran of emergency management and homeland security. Most recently he led the nation through the worst series of disasters ever experienced including hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, Michael, Yutu, and the devastating California wildfires. 

Long is a proven transformational leader and organizational change agent with management experience in both the public and private sector. His Congressional testimonies, coupled with his thought leadership efforts to develop FEMA’s current strategic plan, led to a national focus upon pre-disaster mitigation, creating a true culture of preparedness, and transformational legislative changes that enhanced the field of emergency management.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Long’s career journey from executive vice president of an emergency management consulting firm to the administrator of FEMA
  • What actually happens behind the scenes of FEMA’s role in natural disaster recovery
  • The extent of FEMA’s global reach to assist in disaster recovery in other countries
  • The four “legs” of a proper disaster preparedness, response, and recovery plan
  • The role of local and state governments in disaster recovery 
  • Long’s perspective on financial prosperity and how income poverty and asset poverty decrease disaster resilience on a local level
  • The primary drivers for why public and government infrastructure is prone to failure 
  • Some key takeaways on preparedness how it affected recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and in Hawaii after Hurricane Lane
  • The lifelines that support disaster recovery on a local level
  • The tactical approach to achieve resilience in both the public and private sectors
  • How community resilience starts at an individual level and how local governments can promote disaster preparedness among individuals and families
  • The role of emergency managers in the future to educate their superiors on what funding is realistically available and how to leverage that funding to build resilience for future disasters

Resources Mentioned:

Disaster Recovery Journal:

Asfalis Advisors:

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Vanessa Mathews, host

Vanessa Mathews is the founder and chief resilience officer of Asfalis Advisors, where they are focused on protecting the legacy of the leaders they serve through business resilience. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Mathews developed global crisis management and business continuity programs for government and private sector organizations to include Lowe’s Companies, Gulfstream Aerospace, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Jon Seals, producer

Jon Seals is the editor in chief at Disaster Recovery Journal, the leading magazine/event in business continuity. Seals is an award-winning journalist with a background in publication design, business media, content management, sports journalism, social media, and podcasting.


emergency management, FEMA, disaster mitigation,disaster preparedness, disaster recovery, personal resilience, financial resilience, hurricane maria, hurricane yutu, hurricane lane

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