Governor Moore Signs Executive Order to Enhance Coordination Ahead of Emergencies

Governor Wes Moore signed an executive order establishing a State of Preparedness to promote the safety and well-being of Maryland residents and visitors. This initiative aims to enhance the State’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to potential hazards and threats before a disaster occurs.

Under the new executive order, the governor may declare a State of Preparedness when there is a heightened risk of disruption to Marylanders’ lives. The order directs the Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) to coordinate the comprehensive preparation of state government ahead of potential impacts from hazards or threats, providing a vital layer of protection for Marylanders without necessitating a State of Emergency.

“The safety and security of our residents is our top priority, and this executive order empowers us to act proactively in the face of potential threats,” said Governor Moore. “By declaring a State of Preparedness ahead of potential impacts, we can ensure that our state government is well-prepared to respond rapidly and effectively while providing the necessary resources to protect our communities.”

The new order recognizes the importance of preparedness, early coordination, and proactive protection and provides the capacity to act decisively without declaring a complete state of emergency. As part of a phased approach, the order offers more flexibility to respond proportionally to the level of risk, helps ensure that resources are efficiently managed, and promotes preparedness as a top priority even in the absence of a State of Emergency to mobilize resources and support more efficiently.

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 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.

As previously reported on Conduit Street,  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 in the fiscal 2025 operating budget, which the governor will introduce during the 2024 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Due to a changing climate, communities face more frequent and complex disasters. Climate change drives a range of effects, from discrete events like extreme weather to longer-term impacts that vary by location, such as drought, sea-level rise, regional energy vulnerabilities, increased wildfires, habitat modification, and emerging diseases.

Emergency managers play a critical role in community resilience, including developing the comprehensive strategies needed to address the hazards associated with climate change. At the 2023 MACo Winter Conference session “Batten Down the Hatches: Mitigating a Changing Climate,” an expert panel will share practical insights and actionable strategies to foster a more sustainable and prepared future. 

The 2023 MACo Winter Conference will be held from December 6 to 8 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: