This week, the Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers, a MACo affiliate, sent a letter advocating for Governor Wes Moore to include $10 million for the State Disaster Recovery Fund (SDRF) in the fiscal 2025 operating budget, which the governor will introduce during the 2024 session of the Maryland General Assembly.
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. 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.
In those instances, county governments and their residents have traditionally relied on state relief programs. But those relief mechanisms have typically been siloed, mostly unfunded programs, which create barriers to access and significant delays in distributing aid.
As such, 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. However, while the General Assembly established the fund, it did not provide a funding source.
From the letter:
Since the 2021 Annapolis tornado, the State has experienced numerous emergency events that have further highlighted the importance of the fund. In August 2022, less than one year after the tornado in Annapolis, a waterspout tornado that formed out of severe storms devastated a corner of Maryland’s Smith Island, leaving many residents without power and some without a livable home. More recently, in early August 2023, a storm brought torrential rain and damaging winds to Carroll County, leaving residents facing fallen trees, damaged buildings, and yards filled with debris. With the rise of severe weather events, there is an urgent need to ensure that the SDRF has the funding necessary to help respond to inevitable disasters that will impact all Marylanders.
Over the years, and especially demonstrated in recent events, the emergency management infrastructure has been called upon to respond to an increasingly diverse array of challenges. The SDRF would be greatly beneficial in ensuring that emergency management services continue to be well-positioned to serve residents. Accordingly, the MACo. EM Affiliate would like to again voice its support in funding the SDRF and ask you to set aside $10 million to fund the SDRF in the FY 25 budget.
The letter is signed by the emergency managers from all 23 counties and Baltimore City, including Affiliate President and Director of the Howard County Office of Emergency Management, Mike Hinson, Affiliate Vice President and Director of the Anne Arundel Office of Emergency Management, Preeti Emrick.
MACo joins county emergency managers in advocating for this funding, which provides much-needed resources to serve residents and businesses in all 24 jurisdictions when a disaster strikes and the help is most needed.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.