In Focus | Administrative Challenges in Emergency Management

When the former head of FEMA says there “was never a dull moment” during his time at the agency, that gives you an indication of what the job was like for Brock Long. “Three days after I was sworn into office we had a series of disasters this nation has never seen,” says Long, who directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2017 to 2019. That included wildfires, major hurricanes, and an earthquake in Alaska—more than 220 disasters in all. “FEMA is not 911,” Long tells Tim Frazier, Ph.D., faculty director for Georgetown’s Master's in Emergency & Disaster Management program. It should not respond to every disaster, but should be reserved for the bigger ones. And it should work with state and local governments and the private sector to ensure a coordinated response.

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