#MACoCon Recap: Disaster Dollars: What’s Next?

At this year’s MACo Summer Conference, an expert panel explained how counties are partnering with the State to streamline and expedite community resources in times of crisis.

A federal emergency declaration triggers a wide range of public and private sector relief available in a crisis or disaster. However, in smaller-scale events, similar problems arise for those affected – but local governments are restricted in the funds and resources they can activate without federal declaration.

While a disaster always begins and ends at the local level, a strong partnership across federal, state, and local governments is vital to emergency preparedness and community resilience.

This year, MACo successfully supported legislation to establish a State Disaster Recovery Fund, administered by the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM), to provide disaster recovery assistance to county governments, individuals, and families when federal aid is not available or insufficient – typically due to the nature and breadth of the event.

While the SDRF is a significant accomplishment, more work remains. At the 2023 MACo Summer Conference, the MACo Emergency Managers Affiliate hosted a session to highlight the significance of the SDRF, detail the next steps, and spotlight new ideas and policies to streamline community resources in times of crisis.

Baltimore City Council Vice President and MACo Board Member Sharon Green Middleton led the conversation and moderated an informative Q&A at the “Disaster Dollars: What’s Next?” MACo Summer Conference session.

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Panel speakers included:

  • Michael Hinson, Emergency Manager, Howard County
  • Preeti Emrick, Director, Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management
  • Anna Sierra, Chief Development Officer, Maryland Department of Emergency Management

Howard County Emergency Manager Michael Hinson started the session by explaining the SDRF and detailing a significant drop in funding for county emergency management offices. Hinson noted that county emergency managers are being asked to do much more with much less.

Maryland Department of Emergency Management Chief Development Officer Anna Sierra highlighted emerging threats and explained how underinvestment has led to disastrous responses/consequences in other states. Sierra said it is critical for Maryland to allocate funds to the SDRF.

Anne Arundel County Emergency Management Director Preeti Emrick explained how inadequate federal response/recovery dollars pushed Anne Arundel County to set up its local fund for disaster recovery. She shared best practices and noted that “even a small pot of money can go a long way in ensuring a county is prepared.”

More about MACo’s Summer Conference: