Disaster Preparedness And Response In The United Stated


Did you know that disaster management started in the United States in 1803 when a New Hampshire town was recovering from a devastating fire? A formal program was put in place during the Roosevelt administration, which included the 1934 Flood Control Act. This legislation is considered by many to be the precursor to the birth of disaster management and preparedness in the United States.

The decades following the end of World War II saw less focus on natural disaster preparedness because luckily there were very few calamities to contend. Attention shifted more on survival preparedness in the event of a nuclear attack, and with it, governmental agencies, such as the Federal Civil Defense Administration and the Office of Defense Mobilization, were created. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a re-emergence of disaster management strategies due to a number of major natural calamities that traumatized the United States. The Kennedy Administration formed the Office of Emergency Preparedness to handle natural disaster planning and response, while the Defense Department took charge of civil defense issues. The overarching Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created to centralize disaster management projects during and after the Carter Administration.

The 9/11 bombings brought with it the realization that terrorism could happen here in the United States. Immediate steps were taken to reduce domestic panic, protect economic activities, and limit the possibility of future terror strikes. The Office of Homeland Security was established and tasked to formulate strategies to secure the entire U.S. geographical spread for possible entry breaches. A five-stage, color-coded alert system was devised to alert Americans of possible terror threats. In November 2002, the Homeland Security Act was passed into law, allowing the reorganization of the Emergency Management System. While the act did have a bit of impact on FEMA and other state and local level emergency planning agencies, the Homeland Security Office focuses more on preventive and response strategies to acts of terror.

As disaster management and survival preparedness continues to grow on a governmental level, it is important to remember that when disaster strikes--your best course of action is to be prepared.

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