Strategies to Foster More Effective Conveyance and Distribution of Critical Relief and Recovery Supplies
The committee’s Statement of Task calls for “options and recommendations for future effective conveyance and distribution of food, fuel, medical supplies, water, and pharmaceuticals during disaster response and recovery operations” (see Box 1.1). In addressing this, the committee looked across the many observations, examples, and lessons learned from the three 2017 hurricanes (including the site visits and meeting presentations by local representatives) and drew upon committee members’ own diverse experiences dealing with many types of disasters and emergencies. This chapter outlines four overarching recommendations for advancing our nation’s capacity to provide critical supplies to affected populations in the aftermath of hurricanes:
- 4.1. Shift the focus from pushing relief supplies to ensuring that regular supply chains are restored as rapidly as possible through strategic interventions.
- 4.2. Build system-level understanding of supply chain dynamics as a foundation for effective decision support.
- 4.3. Support mechanisms for coordination, information sharing, and preparedness among supply chain stakeholders.
- 4.4. Develop and administer training on supply chain dynamics and best practices for private-public partnerships that enhance supply chain resilience.
These recommendations are explored in the following sections, in some cases illustrated by specific examples from the 2017 hurricane season. Additionally, the committee offers specific suggestions in addressing each recommendation.
In the run-up to an impending event such as a hurricane, government officials and others will encourage people to prepare by stocking up on items such as food, water, medicine, and batteries. Normal supply chains prepare to handle the surges of demand and projected shortages due to an anticipated disruption. For instance, retail stores ramp up deliveries of bread, milk, water, batteries, and cleaning products in advance of a hurricane because they know that consumers will stock up on emergency supplies before the storm hits. At the same time, as a hurricane approaches, government and relief agencies also begin to assemble stockpiles of food, water, and other essential supplies for distribution in the aftermath of the storm. These competing demands can quickly outstrip the supply of resources.
Immediately following the storm, commercial supply chains can be disrupted because inbound shipments of restocking material may be delayed and critical infrastructure may be damaged. Supply chain managers often take these variables into account and have contingency plans to fill the gaps and get products back on the shelves. In many cases, these plans are sufficient and stores are brought back to pre-disaster conditions quickly, and government intervention is not required. But if a disaster overwhelms local resources and normal commercial supply chains are unable to meet local needs for critical items (e.g., food, water, fuel, medical supplies), the picture changes. State and federal government agencies and/or nongovernmental organizations are then invited by the local or state jurisdiction to provide assistance in the days preceding and immediately after a major storm to help meet the affected citizens’ needs (with the scale of external assistance depending upon the scale of the event itself, see Box 4.1).
“Relief supply chains” have protocols and procedures to follow as the storm progresses, responding to requests from local government officials who seek to meet the needs of their constituents. While political leaders and citizens both welcome—and indeed demand—these relief efforts, a large influx of emergency response supplies can sometimes have unintended negative consequences on local economies and supply chains.
Supply chains are based on the availability of resources for the manufacture and distribution of goods (e.g., people, equipment, systems), but these resources are finite. For instance, constraints in the distribution of commodities exist because there are only so many trucks, barges, ships, freight cars, and airplanes in a given part of the world. There is likewise finite capacity to produce food, potable water, medicine, and medical equipment. When hurricanes or other major disruptions occur, relief supply chains might temporarily replace, supplement, or “borrow” resources (e.g., supplies, transportation services) from commercial supply chains to deliver critical items or services to those in need.
Most government officials tend to ask for an over-abundance of aid in an effort to avoid any kind of shortfall in responding to the population’s needs; with many different government officials asking for help, there are often overlapping requests that can overwhelm the system. When emergency agencies such as FEMA mobilize, they do everything in their power to
fulfill the requests that they receive from local agencies. However, because FEMA does not possess unlimited internal resources, materials, and infrastructure capacity, the agency often hires and contracts for local resources (e.g., materials, trucks, ships, barges, and operators) to help it fill the needs expressed by local and state governments.
Example: In Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, the primary port at San Juan became clogged as large relief shipments of food and bottled water overwhelmed the local trucking capacity for delivering goods across the island.
Such dynamics create an inevitable tension, because the resources that FEMA requires to accomplish its goals are often the same resources needed by local businesses to get their
supply chains back to normal through regular delivery of goods and services to stores, homes, and hospitals. In many cases, demand by FEMA and other emergency management groups can outstrip the local market for resources such as fuel, trucks, drivers, barges, and warehouse space in the affected area. Compounding this tension, the contracted equipment and resources sometimes end up sitting idle, because too much was secured in an over-abundance of caution. The unfortunate result is that consumers and storm victims may experience a longer recovery period back to “normal” than necessary while waiting for resources to be freed up and reallocated to normal pre-disaster use.
Example: In the U.S. Virgin Islands, FEMA paid higher rates to a shipping company to handle relief supplies, and as a result, the company prioritized those shipments ahead of needed commercial resupply to retailers, thus delaying their reopening.
A major reason why the shift from emergency “push” to normal supply chain operations does not occur more quickly is insufficient collection and sharing of information before, during, and after the disaster. FEMA and other emergency managers lack needed contacts, systems, and communications processes to help them gauge conditions, capabilities, vulnerabilities, and criticality of pre-disaster supply chains and thus understand when the transition from emergency posture back to normal can take place. In many places the communications and information sharing among FEMA and other key public and private sector representatives are insufficient to support strategic decisions regarding when to pull back response efforts and allow resumption of normal, pre-disaster supply chain operations.
The concept of resilience is commonly defined as the ability of a system to bounce back in the face of a disturbance. More specifically, Bruneau et al. (2003) suggest that in trying to quantify the resilience of a system, of a community, etc., one can identify specific performance measures related to reduced failure probabilities, reduced consequences from failures (in terms of lives lost, damage, and negative economic and social consequences), and reduced time to recovery (restoration of a specific system or set of systems to their “normal” level of performance).
Such measures could be applied in many ways, at varying degrees of detail and complexity, to quantify the resilience of supply chains for critical commodities. On a simple level, however, one could argue that the most direct measure of success for post-hurricane supply chain resilience is how quickly and fully the local supply chains can bounce back to their normal pre-storm conditions. This goal is distinct from aiming to maximize the throughput of relief supply chains.
Recommendation 1. Shift the focus from pushing relief supplies to ensuring that regular supply chains are restored as rapidly as possible through strategic interventions.
Some key steps and strategies to advance this recommendation include to
Acknowledge political pressures for pushing relief supplies and define alternative measures for evaluating FEMA’s success. Political leaders often fail to recognize that strategically pulling back emergency efforts at the proper time is necessary for getting normal businesses and services back up and running. Often elected officials will continue to request resources from FEMA to ensure that their communities have access to critical goods and services, even when there is no clear indication that such supplies are needed.
This political pressure influences how FEMA is evaluated. The success of a response is often judged by the amount of relief supplies pushed into an area rather than the ultimate impacts of that push. Alternative measures by which FEMA could be evaluated might relate to the strength of an area’s recovery, for instance, based on the speed of critical infrastructure restored; the number of local grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations re-opened; and/or the number of drivers and trucks returned to normal business activities.
- Advance pre-disaster coordination and planning with key supply chain actors. FEMA is in a unique position to lead cross-functional efforts between public and private sector entities (including small businesses, local governments, and others with limited resources) to coordinate pre-disaster planning discussions and exercises and to establish a core group of individuals from those groups to aid in determining the proper time to ramp down emergency push response and begin transitioning back to pre-disaster supply chain operations. Improved planning and communications will provide FEMA with a better view of the resilience, capacities, and limitations of stakeholders in critical supply chains and thus better understanding of when companies and critical public services can resume operations. Strategies to address these information and communication needs are discussed in the following sections of this chapter.
- Prioritize recovery of infrastructure critical for resuming normal supply chain operations over delivery of materials. Critical infrastructure (e.g., power, telecommunications, transportation, roads, bridges, water) enables the operations of all supply chains. In most cases examined in this study, adequate supplies of materials existed in the areas affected by disasters, but the ability to ship and deliver those supplies was impeded by lack of roads, trucks, drivers, fuel, or electricity. Repair and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure is not currently seen as FEMA’s direct role, but the agency could be well positioned to take a more active leadership role in aiding such efforts.1
1 Such efforts would need to be in partnership with key private sector stakeholders, sector-specific agencies (discussed later in Chapter 4), and organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
- For example, as part of a strategic shift toward greater focus on restoration of pre-disaster supply chains, FEMA could aid and advise the information gathering and analysis needed to identify priorities for restoration of critical infrastructure in an affected area (e.g., a manufacturing plant that is critical for a national supply chain may not normally be on the state or local emergency management radar for priority assistance).
Supply chain management plays an important role in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters—encompassing activities as diverse as developing early warning systems, pre-positioning and distributing relief supplies, evacuating affected populations, and managing storm debris (Çelik, Ergun, and Keskinocak, 2015). Such roles must be fulfilled in the face of numerous challenges—such as high uncertainty, dynamic conditions, disrupted infrastructure, and scarce resources. Figure 4.1 illustrates the diverse and highly interdependent information-gathering, preparedness, and response actions and needs involved in building resilient supply chains before, during, and after a disaster strikes. The reference to “supply chain dynamics” used here refers to this dynamic system, which stretches across multiple sectors, temporally across the different stages of the “disaster cycle,” and spatially across local, state, national, and global-scale governance and supply chains.
This section explores the types of data collection and assessment frameworks and practical decision support tools that are needed to build system-scale understanding of (and approach to managing) supply chain logistics in the face of hazardous events—and explores how this more comprehensive understanding can help shape the decisions and actions of emergency managers and other key officials facing complex, rapidly evolving disaster scenarios.
Understanding Supply, Demand, and Critical Infrastructure to Inform Preparedness and Response
Building system-scale understanding of supply chains requires collecting and assessing information that elucidates how critical goods and services flow into, through, and out of a given area—and how major disruptions such as hurricanes can affect these flows. Particularly important is assessment of information related to supply and demand and to critical infrastructure, each discussed below.
During a disaster, assessing the availability of product supply and how it flows is challenging (i.e., how much through relief or commercial supply chains, to which locations), as it changes over time. For example, suppose one receives information that 80 percent of the grocery stores in the affected region are open at a given time after a disaster. While this partial information is helpful, it does not contain information about the general capacity at which each store is able to operate (such as what and how much inventory is on the shelves and whether stores are operating under limited hours). The answers might differ from location to location, causing varying amounts or types of unmet demand.
Assessing and forecasting product demand is likewise challenging, especially during disaster response. The demand and needs of the affected population change dynamically over time, depending on the disaster type and the phase in the disaster timeline, as well as local preparedness. Affected survivors in need of relief commodities might need them at different levels of urgency (Çelik et al., 2012). Hence, it is necessary to not only estimate the location and magnitude of demand and needs, but also differentiate between different demand classes (e.g., based on geography or sub-populations), along with the uncertainty of demand.
Immediately before and after disasters, there is often a surge in demand for certain items. In some cases, this is due to an actual need. In other cases, counter-intuitively, the demand can outstrip the true need. For instance, if local residents are concerned about supply shortages (e.g., food, water, gas), they may rush to stores and gas stations to hoard these supplies. Shortages resulting from this surge in demand may further increase the sense of scarcity and result in even more apparent demand. Without detailed information, it can be difficult to discern between observed demand and true needs of the population. And in addition to understanding the amount, type, and location of demand, it is important to understand how well regular supply chains can meet that demand. When there is unmet demand, this is not always due to a supply shortage, but may be caused by challenges in delivering the supplies to those in need.
Example: In Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria some grocery stores were open with items on the shelves, but they were not able to execute EBT card transactions due to power outages or disruptions in communication towers. Deliveries from distribution centers to grocery stores were also disrupted due to road conditions or shortages of truck drivers. In Florida after Hurricane Irma, some gas stations did not operate at capacity even though they had inventory of fuel, because people were not available to staff the stores. So, even though there was supply in these examples, human resource limitations or disruptions in the infrastructure led to a mismatch between demand and supply.
If one develops an understanding of how well critical supply chain components can meet demand during “normal” times, this often provides insights on where the biggest gaps and vulnerabilities that are likely to arise during emergencies: where will relief items most likely need to be delivered, and what preparation steps could be taken to reduce post-disaster response needs?
Example: The United States regularly experiences shortages of some lifesaving drugs and other supplies essential to patient care. Saline is one example, as it is required for the majority of hospitalized patients, with national demand of more than 40 million bags per month. One of the main producers of saline, supplying about half of U.S. hospitals with small saline bags, is Baxter International, located in Puerto Rico. There was already a shortage of saline solution prior to Hurricane Maria, and the impact of the hurricane on the Baxter plant caused the problem to reach critical levels. The lack of redundancy in overall manufacturing capacity makes this a highly vulnerable supply chain (Mazer-Amirshahi and Fox, 2018).2
Supply chains rely on critical infrastructure such as power, communication, transportation facilities (e.g., roads, airports, ports)—all of which can be damaged and disrupted during a disaster. The magnitude of damage, and how quickly the system can recover from damage, depends on the resilience of the infrastructure; and the status of the infrastructure, in turn, can profoundly affect supply and demand (and ability of supply chains to meet the demand) for many critical products and services. See, for example, the discussion in Chapter 3 about the infrastructure vulnerability in Puerto Rico, and how the infrastructure failures that resulted from Maria became a central factor undermining almost all critical supply chains across the island.
In the context of emergency preparedness and response, the definition of critical infrastructure can be expanded beyond the traditional sectors noted above. The DHS extended
definition of critical infrastructure includes 16 sectors,3 with associated sector-specific agencies (discussed in Section 4.3). Among these are energy (Department of Energy), health care and public health (Department of Health and Human Services), water and wastewater (Environmental Protection Agency), food and agriculture (U.S. Department of Agriculture; Department of Health and Human Services), and critical manufacturing emergency services (DHS).
Mechanisms that allow system-scale understanding and visibility of all of these complex, interacting elements (related to supply, demand, critical infrastructure) can provide a critical foundation for advancing the other goals recommended in this report.
- As discussed under Recommendation 1, disaster response efforts often focus on delivering relief and services based on rough estimates about unmet demand, rather than on an understanding of the root causes for unmet demand and identifying what interventions could help normal supply chains rebound more quickly—and in some circumstances, this approach can actually delay the recovery of regular supply chains. Emergency management officials need system-level information and decision support tools to better understand when to phase out of relief supply chains and how to most strategically intervene to help commercial supply chains resume in a timely manner.
- As discussed under Recommendation 3 (below), effective preparedness actions can greatly reduce the need for external aid, demands on relief supply chains, and the timeline for recovery. Preparedness can encompass many types of activities, however, with priorities varying from one place to another. In some places, mitigating potential infrastructure failures may be paramount, whereas in other places, advancing debris management planning is a high priority (see Box 4.2). With a broader systems perspective, investments and attention among different preparedness actions can be better prioritized.
- Finally, as discussed under Recommendation 4 (below), emergency management training efforts could be greatly enhanced with tools that build understanding about the system-scale dynamics of supply chains and the ways in which emergency preparedness and response decisions will affect those dynamics.
Understanding Dependencies and Cascading Effects to Inform Resource Prioritization
Decisions about the allocation of scarce resources are critical during disaster response, and these decisions can have complex cascading effects on other resources and on the ability to meet demand for certain commodities within an affected community. For example, allocating the limited truck capacity to delivering critical food and medical items may save or improve
lives; yet allocating some of that capacity for carrying repair supplies to fix critical infrastructure (e.g., roads, electricity) might also save lives, especially if this means establishing connectivity to critical facilities and services such as hospitals and dialysis centers. The impacts of allocation decisions can reach well beyond local communities as well. For example, if there are delays in the shipments of jet fuel, air transportation throughout the country could be affected.
Resource allocation and prioritization decisions can be especially challenging if these decisions are made by multiple agencies in a decentralized manner. With tools that provide visibility into the evolving demand, supply, and infrastructure conditions, decision makers can have a better understating of how particular response decisions may lead to cascading impacts across economic systems and geographic scales.
Critical to this process is establishing how (and by whom) prioritization decisions are made during an emergency. Among the many questions that must be asked are: Are there protocols in place for prioritization? If yes, were these protocols prepared with input from stakeholders? Are these protocols communicated broadly to ensure that everyone is aligned in understanding their respective roles and responsibilities? What kind of flexibility is built into these protocols, so that priorities can change dynamically as more information becomes available? Who coordinates to make sure that the priorities are adjusted as needed and understands the critical interdependencies among different networks, demand, and supply?
Understanding how interdependencies among critical systems can lead to cascading failures aids in emergency preparedness and supports risk management decision making when responding to events. For example, as noted above, many critical supply chains are dependent on the functioning of critical infrastructure such as energy supply (electricity, fuels), and in turn the energy sector is often dependent on the functioning of communications, water, and transportation systems. A widespread power outage—especially if it lasts for an extended period—is likely to impact the communications network, the water network, and critical supply chains for fuel, food, and other critical supplies. If road infrastructure is damaged, this can delay repairs in other infrastructure as well as response and recovery efforts. Risk analyses and assessment of critical assets and networks can reveal unknown or unforeseen dependencies and interdependencies.
The 2017 hurricanes offered numerous examples of challenges in the prioritization of scarce resources and the cascading impacts of infrastructure failures or resource allocation decisions.
Example 1: In the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, containers generically marked as “disaster relief ” were prioritized over other containers that held critical materials such as repair parts for generator maintenance and resin to make caps for bottled water production. Dialysis centers, which require significant amounts of water to run, were not always prioritized at the level they needed. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, delivery of badly needed repair and rebuilding supplies was delayed by less critical “relief supply” shipments.
Example 2: During Hurricane Maria, the collapse of power and communication infrastructure across Puerto Rico created a host of cascading effects on supply chain dynamics. Many truck drivers could not be reached due to non-functioning communications networks, and this became one of the factors causing a shortage of truck capacity and thus delaying delivery of critical goods. Without power and communication, retailers could not place orders with distributors, distributors could not place orders with suppliers, and orders could not be delivered due in part to the inability to mobilize trucks and drivers.
Example 3: During Hurricane Harvey, power and communication outages, as well as fuel and chemical shortages, affected water pumping and treatment facilities throughout the South Texas region. Flooding and damage to critical infrastructure also greatly impeded the distribution of food, water, and medical supplies.
Example 4: During Hurricane Irma, a fueling center located near Ft. Pierce, Florida, a key location, particularly for major truck transports and deliveries, ran out of fuel and convenience store products before the storm due to high evacuation demand, and it lost electricity a day later. Restoration of fuel and food supplies was hindered by the lack of power. The local electric utility and the facility store manager had never been contacted by emergency management or utility officials regarding priority restoration of power nor had the owner ever communicated with local authorities.
Another factor that can have system-wide cascading impacts are the rules and regulations stemming from national legislation or standard operating practices. Understanding such impacts can aid wise, informed decisions about whether, where, and when to seek waivers or adjustments to such constraints before and during emergency events. Such rules and regulations may also lead to misalignment of incentives in the system and have unintended consequences. For instance, price gouging restrictions meant to protect customers from improper price surges can lead some retailers (especially small stores or gas stations) to temporarily shut down operations due to concerns that selling prices are not sufficient to cover higher costs of supply replenishment. (See Appendix D for a complete listing of regulations and waiver opportunities.)
Example: When damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma threatened fuel supplies nationwide, temporary waivers to the Jones Act were issued, allowing foreign vessels to transport petroleum products between the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard.4
4 The Jones Act prohibits any foreign-built, foreign-owned, or foreign-flag vessel (foreign vessels) from transporting goods between U.S. ports. During the 2017 hurricane season, Jones Act waivers were issued three times. The first two dealt with fuel supplies impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Irma. The last waiver was specific to Puerto Rico (due to Hurricane Maria) and addressed the movement of all products. Note that the U.S. Virgin Islands is exempt from the Jones Act. See Appendix D for further information on the Jones Act.
During Hurricane Irma, gasoline shortages were thought to be due in part to the lack of drivers certified to enter the local fuel racks. This bottleneck could be largely alleviated if private sector and local officials collaborate in establishing a fast credentialing process for out-of-state (HAZMAT-certified) truck drivers coming to use the local racks, or it could be coordinated through private sector mutual aid organizations.
Practical Implementation Considerations and Examples
Figure 4.1 highlights many of the information-gathering activities needed to build the type of system-scale understanding discussed here (e.g., mapping critical infrastructure networks and interdependencies, identifying critical and vulnerable supply chain nodes and links, characterizing the preparedness status of key stakeholders). There is a great deal of work involved in gathering, verifying, maintaining, and analyzing such a complex collection of information and in using this information to develop appropriate models and decision-support tools. This work does of course have costs, but these costs are likely to be far outweighed by the benefits of equipping emergency managers with better understanding of supply chain vulnerabilities, with visibility into the causes of demand and supply gaps, and with a stronger foundation to make effective decisions about how, when, and where to deploy critical resources during emergency preparedness and response operations.
We do not attempt to offer here a detailed blueprint regarding questions of practical implementation, such as what specific data and indicators should be collected, at what level of spatial and temporal granularity, or how the specific modeling and decision-support tools should be structured. The answers to these questions will vary a great deal depending upon the location of study, the hazards of key concern, the supply chains of critical interest, and other factors, and it can in fact take months or years of work to design such systems.
As more general illustrative guidance, however, we point to several examples of these sorts of tools that are already being developed and applied in a variety of disaster and hazard management contexts (see list below, as well as Box 4.3):5
- Kotsireas, Nagurney, and Pardalos (2018) survey a variety of modeling approaches and applications to natural and human-caused disasters.
- Ulusan and Ergun (2018) use a network science–inspired measure to quantify the criticality of components within a disrupted service network and offer a methodology to prioritize restoration efforts based on this measure—focusing in particular on the challenge of setting priorities for clearing road debris in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
5 The Massachusetts Institute of Technology work described in Chapter 1 is an attempt to do the type of systems modeling described here; however, that work is still in an active development stage and thus not included in this list.
- Nurre et al. (2012) examine models and tools for restoring infrastructure system services after disruption from an extreme event, including the use of decision models to prioritize restoration actions and schedule limited resources in order to maximize supply flows.
- Ergun et al. (2011) and Duran, Gutierrez, and Keskinocak (2011) explore how operations research methodologies and optimization models can be used to assist decision makers addressing common disaster response supply chain challenges, such as advance purchasing, pre-positioning, and inventory allocation. They also explore more intuitive scenario-based approaches for addressing objectives that are difficult to model quantitatively.
- Doroudi et al. (2018) harness behavioral operations research to advance methodologies for testing and improving supply chains, addressing human components of the system. Focused on the problem of shortages of key pharmaceutical drugs in the United States, they developed an integrated simulation framework that can predict how disruptions may cascade through pharmaceutical supply chains and that allows one to “integrate sophisticated supply chain models with realistic, yet computationally tractable, models of human decision making.”
- Mendonça and Wallace (2004, 2007) examine the importance of flexibility and capacity to improvise in responding to disasters; and develop a set of requirements for computer-based systems to provide cognitive-level support for improvisation in response to extreme events.
- Çelik et al. (2012) present several examples of decision support tools being developed to aid in estimating demand for relief supplies—for example, for informing decisions about prepositioning of supplies, designing optimal procurement strategies to minimize costs and maximize benefits to local communities, and assessing local health system capacity to meet demand within an affected area.
- Duran, Gutierrez, and Keskinocak (2011) describe a model developed for CARE International to evaluate strategies for positioning relief items in order to reduce relief-aid response time. The model has been used to help CARE managers determine a desired configuration for pre-positioning networks located in several countries around the world.
Recommendation 2. Build system-level understanding of supply chain dynamics as a foundation for effective decision support.
Some key steps and strategies to advance this recommendation include the following:
- For the given jurisdiction of concern (i.e., local, state, regional), support pre-disaster assessment of the criticality, vulnerability, and dependencies of key supply chain nodes, links, and supporting infrastructure; and develop protocols and systems for gathering and regularly updating information about demand, supply, infrastructure condition, and supply chain functionality. Many private sector supply chains already utilize sophisticated tools for sensing supply and demand changes, system bottlenecks and vulnerabilities, and other critical information. Public sector officials need comparable capabilities and tools that can interface with, and build upon, these private sector capabilities.
- Emergency management offices at the local, state, and regional levels (working with critical partners, for instance, in the private sector and in academic research centers) are likely best suited to lead much of this information collection and analysis work. FEMA can play a critical leadership role, however, in building capacity and providing support for such efforts—not only through financial incentives (i.e., grant programs) but also through active training activities that bring together local knowledge with experience and perspectives drawn from government and business leaders nationwide (training issues are discussed further below).
Preparedness Measures to Build Supply Chain Resilience
By far the greatest opportunities for ensuring more effective conveyance and distribution of critical relief supplies in the wake of a disaster come from efforts undertaken before disasters strike. Individuals, governments, and businesses often have a short memory of past
disasters and adopt unrealistically positive attitudes of “it won’t happen to me,” which is why it is so important to actively promote continual disaster preparedness efforts and to preserve the critical institutional memory and expertise that allows one to build upon past successes and failures. Discussed below are some of the critical planning steps that can be taken by emergency managers, businesses, owners and operators of key supply systems, and other local stakeholders involved in ensuring that supply chains remain resilient in the face of disruptions.
Emergency Preparedness and Continuity of Operations Plans and Resources
Over the past decade, business continuity planning has expanded significantly, particularly in advance of hurricane season, because of growing pressure for companies to recover quickly (often within hours) after a storm hits and to maintain significant capabilities during disaster conditions.6 Such plans need to be regularly reviewed and updated to prepare for potential catastrophic events that affect widespread geographic areas and affect critical infrastructure. Plans should consider how to manage resources by understanding and taking inventory of critical business functions, sites, materials, and equipment needed for response and recovery operations. This may include consideration of factors such as transportation and communication equipment, off-site back-up locations and capabilities, supplies of essential materials (e.g., water, ice, food, fuel, batteries, generators), and robust contracts with suppliers who can respond quickly during an emergency and enable continuity of operations (see Box 4.4).
Example: Caribbean Restaurants, operator of more than 170 Burger King locations across Puerto Rico, was well equipped to handle problems after Hurricane Maria—because it had inventories, communications systems, and workers ready to respond. It was able to rely on an experienced network of drivers and an internal fleet of 25 trucks to deliver product to its stores. It also benefited from a company-owned 10-day supply of diesel, supplemented with fuel shipments from longtime supplier Empire Gas—which in turn had its own distribution channels, containers, and fleet of trucks to distribute gas across 40 different stations throughout the island.7
Training and Worst-case Scenario Drills for Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Operations
Training programs provide a necessary step in preparing for disaster incidents. In addition to training, personnel should exercise plans to test and evaluate roles and responsibilities, procedures, communications, and equipment. Lessons learned and best practices that were observed during exercises can then be used to update existing plans to make them more robust. Federal, state, and local governments and the private sector sometimes conduct exercises and workshops to prepare for disaster incidents.
Example: In June 2017, two months before Hurricane Harvey, Texas State Emergency Management conducted an exercise to test the state’s hurricane preparedness program. The scenario was a major Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Houston-Galveston-Sabine Lake region. More than 1,100 participants took part over the nine-day event.8 In May 2017, the Department of Energy along with state organizations and private companies conducted the Clear Path V exercise in Houston that simulated a hurricane event (ISER, 2018).
Communication Protocols and “Work-Around” Systems
Effective communications among governments, private, and public entities are necessary in preparing, responding, and recovering from an emergency situation. Communication mechanisms and equipment should be deployed with appropriate back-up plans to agencies and organizations involved. Comprehensive communication systems, including the use of translators when
necessary, should be in place to supplement any communications that may be lost in the event of a power outage. Communications equipment should be thoroughly tested, and responders should become familiar with the equipment, systems, and procedures during training and exercises.
Example: After Hurricane Maria, more than 95 percent of cell signal towers in Puerto Rico were out of service (FCC, 2018), and emergency management officials reported how their staff operated “blindly” for a number of days and thus were not able to adequately respond due to lack of communications.
Plans to Protect Health and Safety of Organizational Personnel
During a disaster, government and industry may experience a loss or shortage of human resources to perform critical jobs and provide adequate contingencies. Business continuity plans could include steps such as shutting down headquarters, evacuating workers, establishing temporary work sites, and arranging to bring in qualified replacement and backup personnel. Businesses should maintain lists of full contact information for all employees and ensure that lists are updated frequently and maintained at multiple locations. Preparedness plans should address relocation or return of evacuated employees to the region. Housing resources need to be identified for employees and their families. Safety and security requirements, including protocols for re-entry credentials, must be assessed and addressed prior to returning evacuated employees or deploying replacement employees.
Example: In Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, a significant number of truckers stayed home even after the ports had reopened and many roads had been cleared, because they could not risk being stranded without fuel (Palin, 2018). Also in Puerto Rico, Crowley Maritime housed and fed employees and their families at the Port of San Juan to ensure the availability of workers to continue operations. In Houston, it was reported that one large electric utility (CenterPoint) set up childcare services for its employees who responded to Hurricane Maria.
Partnerships That Enhance Coordination, Communication, and Information Sharing Among Government Agencies, the Private Sector, and Nongovernmental Organizations
Effective communications among all levels of government and industry is important in developing coordinated messages to expedite response and restoration efforts and to inform the public of response and recovery progress during and after an incident. Information sharing and coordination strategies and platforms are discussed in greater detail below.
Example: In Puerto Rico, health care coalitions played an important role in advancing collaboration and coordination when storm damage led to the partial or complete closure of several hospitals. More so than most other sectors, hospital coalitions in
Puerto Rico had a history of cooperative training and exercises, including exercises that involved scenarios of a Category 5 hurricane.9 In Texas, there were also several examples of effective coordination across agencies. In Harris County, a wide array of organizations maintained communication and collaboration through the Emergency Operations Center. At the Port of Houston, the port coordination team consisted of more than 25 representatives from the weather service, Army Corps, oil refineries and other industries, barge operations, railways, Port of Houston, Port of Galveston, local law enforcement, and others. Conference calls during disaster response worked very efficiently because representatives already knew each other, had been working together for a long time, and had established a level of trust. Everyone had some level of understanding of the repercussions of the prioritization decisions.
Federal Mechanisms to Advance Operational Coordination and Information Sharing
Operational coordination is a core capability of the DHS National Planning Frameworks (prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery). Under the National Response Framework, government agencies, departments, and responders at the local, state, and federal levels interact with industry to respond to all types of disasters and emergencies. In 2016, DHS also issued its Critical Infrastructure Threat Information Sharing Framework to help key stakeholders understand threats information and protect critical infrastructure systems. Stakeholders include critical infrastructure owners and operators;10 government entities at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels; and other public and private partners with responsibility for the security and/or resilience of critical infrastructure systems.
This framework facilitates the sharing of threat information through designated information-sharing hubs and by defining standard operating procedures for communicating information to key stakeholders. These information-sharing conduits and hubs may either directly or indirectly interact with critical infrastructure owners/operators and the private sector, depending upon their function. For example, information-sharing and analysis centers, managed by consortiums tasked with providing sector-specific analysis on critical infrastructure status and threats, can interact directly with infrastructure owner/operators. Each center not only acts as a clearinghouse for information shared (by government or private entities) with the greater industry community, but also serves as a resource to validate and analyze the information it receives in order to assess the severity of perceived threats and to recommend appropriate response actions. There are information-sharing and analysis centers for electricity, oil and gas, and water, as well as others.11
11 Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center: https://www.nerc.com/pa/ci/esisac/Pages/default.aspx); Oil and Natural Gas Information Sharing and Analysis Center: https://ongisac.org/; Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center: https://www.waterisac.org/.
In addition to its information-sharing framework, DHS developed a framework for successful public-private partnerships in the form of self-organized, self-governing sector-coordinating councils.12 These councils enable critical infrastructure owners and operators, their trade associations, and other industry representatives to interact on a wide range of sector-specific strategies, policies, and activities. The sector-coordinating councils coordinate and collaborate with sector-specific agencies, the Critical Infrastructure Cross-Sector Council,13 and related government coordinating councils to address the entire range of critical infrastructure security and resilience policies and efforts for that sector. Examples of cross-sector discussions include the electricity, oil and gas, financial services, and communications sector coordinating councils’ collaborative work on dependencies and interdependencies to enhance response planning (NPC, 2014).
Example: A good illustration of how these structures function can be found in the chemical industry sector. U.S. chemical facilities produce a huge range of chemical products for a global supply chain. The sector has a strong history of public-private partnerships to develop industry practices focused on safety and security.14 The chemical sector has a sector-specific agency that leads public-private partnerships, and a sector-coordinating council with representatives from 15 trade associations15 that “provides a forum for private companies to coordinate on sector strategy, policy, information sharing, regulations, and risk management activities.” DHS’s sector-specific chemical government coordinating council works with the sector-coordinating councils to plan, implement, and execute sector-wide resilience and security programs. The government coordinating council also enables interagency and cross-jurisdictional coordination and communication on strategies, activities, and policies among government agencies.
The State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council and the Regional Consortium Coordinating Council are examples of two councils focused on short- and long-term priorities in critical infrastructure resilience. The State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council serves as a forum for different levels of government to coordinate across jurisdictions in national critical infrastructure security and resilience efforts, and the Regional Consortium Coordinating Council is a cross-sector council that provides a framework to support regional public-private partnerships including information sharing and networking. (See Appendix C for a list of consortiums participating in the Regional Consortium Coordinating Council.) A few examples of such councils are discussed below.
Example: Two member groups of the Regional Consortium Coordinating Council that provided services and support during the 2017 hurricane season were the All-Hazards Consortium and the American Logistics Aid Network. The activities of the All-Hazards Consortium included coordinating the movement of personnel, equipment, and materials to provide power restoration. The consortium provides the technology and convening mechanism to enable this form of business-to-business mutual aid. The American Logistics Aid Network provided a cross-sector convening call to enable information sharing between government and businesses specifically around logistics and supply chain activities. This allowed for real-time conversation regarding issues common to all supply chains, as well as information exchange between FEMA Logistics Management Divisions’ senior leadership and commercial supply chain professionals and industry association leaders.
Several key initiatives for information sharing among critical sectors are led by the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center, which serves as the private sector’s connection to the security and resilience programs led and coordinated by DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.16 The National Infrastructure Coordinating Center supports the critical infrastructure community through its Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN, 2019).17 The network is the primary system through which sensitive but unclassified information may be shared among private sector owners and operators (including for critical infrastructure), DHS, and other federal, state, and local government actors, particularly during catastrophic events. The Homeland Security Information Network can be used during hurricane response for activities such as receiving and sending updates on damage assessment and providing a valuable platform for information sharing.
For additional information on tools and resources for information sharing, see Appendix C.
Coordination and Information-Sharing Mechanisms: Experiences from the 2017 Hurricanes
Emergency management efforts involve multiple agents (e.g., governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, industry, military), which can have conflicting objectives and may even at times compete for scarce resources. Hence, multi-organizational collaboration and coordination, within and across sectors, is crucial in the management of relief and commercial supply chains and the allocation of scarce resources. It takes time to establish the relationships and trust needed as a foundation of effective supply chain logistics, which is why it is so critical for representatives from key organizations (e.g., government, private sector, nongovernmental organizations) to engage early on—well before a disaster hits.
16 Formerly the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection.
During the committee’s meetings, numerous individuals and organizations were asked what factors they considered most necessary for successful disaster response, and many of the responses centered around the need for clearly defined processes and mechanisms for coordination and information sharing—especially platforms to engage across levels of government, with the private sector, and with the public—before, during, and after a disaster. The lack of effective information sharing and coordinated response were cited as factors that led to duplication of efforts, gaps in service delivery, confusion over ownership of issues, and, in severe cases, competition for scarce resources.
Several formal and informal mechanisms for coordination and information sharing, within and across sectors, were utilized during the 2017 hurricane season, with varying levels of efficacy. Below is an overview of some of the key platforms used, focusing in particular on activities to foster coordination and information sharing between government emergency management agencies and private sector businesses.
The National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC), which is activated by FEMA following disasters or emergencies, engages stakeholders from the private sector and federal and state agencies to enhance communication and collaboration, to help FEMA offices with situational awareness, and to facilitate exchange of information for response and recovery. In the 2017 hurricane season, the center, as well as state emergency management organizations, hosted voice and web conferences, which allowed for a rapid distribution of high-level information to a broad audience. These NBEOC calls had upwards of 1,000 participants during the height of the storm activations. The calls utilized a structured agenda for reporting, along with a question-and-answer component, and utilized an interactive web-based dashboard where reports, briefings, maps, links, and other static information were posted. These calls focused on a push of information, although the question-and-answer period and web-based portion did allow for businesses to raise questions and issues. There is evidence that in some cases the web-based dashboard allowed for business-to-business mutual aid and resource sharing. While the calls were very useful, some challenges were identified with this format, such as the following:
- In areas where communications infrastructures (i.e., power, telephone, cellular towers) were disrupted or destroyed, this impeded critical efforts to distribute information, coordinate activities, and identify arising problems. The lack of physical communications capabilities prevented access to resources where information sharing and coordination activities were occurring.
- Some issues identified in the NBEOC calls were then worked on offline by a few key stakeholders, but those solutions were not shared broadly until the next call on the following day (which can be a long delay in the context of a fast-moving storm event).
- In order to participate in these calls, businesses must know of their existence, and they must have the time and resources to participate. This commonly results in a bias toward larger businesses with the ability to dedicate resources to government
- interactions. It also means that only issues identified by participants were addressed, so issues affecting small to mid-sized businesses did not always surface. Smaller organizations also noted that the calls can be “intimidating” to join because everyone seems to already understand the flow of the call.
- An additional challenge regarding government-hosted coordination and information-sharing platforms was the concern over Freedom of Information Act and sunshine laws. Businesses are often reluctant to share confidential information that could become public—even if this information is critical for government understanding of why particular interventions may be necessary.
Other key platforms used during the 2017 hurricane season included the following:
- In-person meetings, such as those affiliated with the creation of the Puerto Rico Business Emergency Operations Center, allowed for a more conversational atmosphere, where issues and solutions could be raised concurrently. While convened by FEMA, participants self-organized into segments that did not necessarily align with emergency support function, lifeline, or critical infrastructure structures. This allowed them to focus on issues the group considered most critical, rather than those presented to them from an outsider’s perspective.
- Sector- and industry-specific phone conferences as well as problem-specific task forces were utilized to focus on challenges affecting a particular business segment or issues that benefit from expert knowledge. This included groups dedicated to the restoration of power and groups focused on information and resource requirements for owners and operators of private sector supply chains. Both groups used a mix of in-person and virtual meeting methods to convene. Some of these groups were formed by government emergency management personnel, some were organized by industry subject-matter experts, and some were collaborative.
- Less formal communication and coordination mechanisms also existed, including person-to-person conversations via text, email, or phone. These were typically focused on specific issues or solutions for a single business or supply chain. Challenges with this format are that while the issues identified may be common to other businesses, the solutions were not necessarily shared broadly.
- Websites dedicated to sharing business status and/or information critical to business operations also served as tools for coordination during the 2017 events. As one example, a collaboration by the private sector committees of the National Emergency Management Association and the International Association of Emergency Managers, provided a map-based status snapshot of roads, power, and communications.18
- (See also the RxOpen online platform operated by Healthcare Ready, discussed in Box 4.5.)
- Social media platforms are also a rich source of information (or misinformation) following a disaster. Groups such as Humanity Road monitor these platforms, follow trends, vet the data, and aggregate to provide reports of what those affected by the disaster are talking about.19
- Industry-specific groups such as the Port Coordination Team in Houston can also help to facilitate information flow and coordination. The team meets on an ongoing basis during normal operations in order to maintain relationships, and then changes to problem-specific mode during disasters. The established relationships allow the group to quickly ramp up discussions without the awkwardness of first getting to know one another. The group has already navigated the team-building process, and members quickly begin working together to address issues identified in the current emergency.
While each of these existing coordination mechanisms are valuable, collectively there are some common challenges that often arise. For instance, businesses with pre-existing relationships and connections to government emergency management structures are generally able to get their issues considered and resolved more easily than others. There can also be challenges of different engagement mechanisms competing for attention from the business community, with some private sector representatives being overwhelmed with requests to participate in calls at the state level, at the federal level, within their sector, and for a problem-specific task force. Thus, there needs to be ongoing consideration about how to advance this collective “ecosystem” for engagement in a way that minimizes the time burden placed on any individual participant.
Broader “whole community” coordination strategies can reduce the potential for gaps and/or confusing overlaps in coverage. Coordination needs to occur in a distributed fashion—involving stakeholders at lower levels, with direct first-hand knowledge of what problems are arising in the affected area; and those at higher levels, with the capacity to identify related adjacent issues that should be addressed in a coordinated manner—stakeholders with capacity for the type of system-scale understanding discussed under Recommendation 2.
Depending on the scale of the incident, the overall leadership of these coordination efforts could occur at the federal, state, or local level. At the federal level, leadership is likely to come from FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center and the local Business Emergency Operations Center. At the state level, it may come from a sector-specific agency or equivalent organization responsible for coordinating private sector support—perhaps with aid from state associations representing key sectors (e.g., fuel, convenience and grocery stores, utilities). Local-level emergency management (which is often limited in staff, physical operating spaces, and other resources) may need to draw upon staff from other agencies or external
organizations with domain expertise, such as a local Chamber of Commerce. The lead organization in all the cases need not be responsible for providing solutions to all the problems arising, but should be able to maintain real-time awareness of all of the critical developments occurring at different levels within the affected jurisdictions.
Recommendation 3. Support mechanisms for coordination, information sharing, and preparedness among supply chain stakeholders.
Some key steps and strategies to advance this recommendation are to
- Ensure that emergency preparedness plans delineate clear roles and responsibilities.
- Strengthen industry interface with local, state, and federal agencies through efficient communication channels; coordinate plans for identifying, obtaining, pre-positioning,
- distributing, and securing resources (e.g., fuel, water, food, generators) during a disaster; and coordinate plans for ensuring adequate materials and equipment for response and recovery.
- Put supply contracts in place ahead of time, in particular for fuel and generators. (See Box 4.4.) Consider putting in place agreements with transportation companies, such as regional trucking companies, for the distribution of commodities.
- Plan for the fuel supply required for a large-scale evacuation and response, and ensure that adequate supplies are strategically positioned along evacuation routes.
- Develop plans to address the needs of workforce personnel and their families during disasters, including adequate backup human resources to address “personnel fatigue.”
- Educate public officials, policy makers, and response personnel on key lifeline-sector supply chains and how they work, to facilitate better decision making, help manage expectations, and foster effective response planning (discussed in the following section).
- Create mutual aid agreements within lifeline sectors, such as those established by the electric utility industry, the water and wastewater agency response network, and the association of state and territorial health care officials.20 Ensure that all participants have a common understanding of policies, authorities, and procedures (including those for personnel security and credentialing).21
- Establish a dedicated private sector liaison in each state and regional emergency management agency, to engage with businesses year-round.
- Encourage private sector entities to subscribe to the DHS Homeland Security Information Network for accessing the Emergency Services portal (and to join available state, regional, national Business Emergency Operations Center platforms) to obtain the latest information and situational awareness of ongoing events.
- Establish local community partnerships among local emergency management entities and local nongovernmental organizations and community groups that have established networks and relationships with individuals who need services (e.g., Meals on Wheels, adult daycare programs, faith-based organizations), for help with identifying and supporting vulnerable households.
- Plan for the location of relief aid points of distribution, and make arrangements for local organizations and networks to staff them.
- Collect data on an area’s disease and risk profiles, to aid planning decisions by emergency management agencies and organizations regarding what drugs to stockpile or bring to an affected area.
We emphasize that many of the actions listed above involve not only FEMA, but also state and local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and business and industry owners and operators.
Most stakeholders engaged in emergency management traditionally come from governmental organizations such as the military, law enforcement, fire service, or other federal or
20 Edison Electric Institute: http://www.eei.org/issuesandpolicy/electricreliability/mutualassistance/Pages/default.aspx; American Water Work Association: https://www.awwa.org/Portals/0/AWWA/Government/HarveyIrmaAARFINAL.pdf; Association of State and Territorial Health Official: http://www.astho.org/Programs/Preparedness/Public-HealthEmergency-Law/Emergency-Authority-and-Immunity-Toolkit/Mutual-Aid-and-Assistance-Agreements-Fact-Sheet/.
21 An example of a successful mutual aid is the All Hazards Consortium’s ‘Multi-State Fleet Response’ Working Group. The working group expedites the movement of private sector repair and supply chain fleets and resources across state borders in response to disasters, dealing primarily with power restoration. Sector/lifeline-specific information is compiled by an independent organization, and organization members make decisions on how best to restore their lifeline/sector activities by supporting one another.
state agencies, and they typically have had little to no engagement or employment with private sector entities. They likewise have little or no training specifically about the complexities of modern private sector supply chain systems or to understand the ways in which disasters, and disaster response actions, can affect those supply chains.
A newer generation of emergency management professionals has emerged from the scores of colleges and universities offering degrees and certificates in emergency management or homeland security—many established after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Yet even in these programs there is a need for more classes that provide the insights necessary to understand how disasters and emergency management strategies can impact supply chains and the economy as a whole.
To rectify this situation, education and training should be provided to emergency managers and those supporting operations in a disaster environment (e.g., Emergency Operations Center personnel, incident management teams, federal coordinating officers, and people staffing emergency support functions from other government agencies), to help all of these critical stakeholders evaluate the decisions they are making in a broader context. FEMA’s Supply Chain Resilience Guide (see Chapter 5) does in fact advise just this sort of training.
This educational process could cover many of the basic supply chain concepts that are discussed in Chapter 2 of this report, along with the following types of content:
- an overview of private sector and nonprofit supply chains for key commodities, and their interdependencies;
- an analysis of the critical infrastructure sectors supporting supply chains, such as transportation; electricity generation and transmission; communication technologies; fuel refining, storage, and delivery; municipal water supply and wastewater; and financial systems;
- an overview of the ways that disasters can impact tax structures and other revenue sources at the federal, state, and local levels;
- a review of how the laws and regulations governing disaster operations can impact supply chains (e.g., price gouging laws, restrictions on governmental support for private sector organizations);
- an awareness of the human resources (staffing levels and types) necessary to support supply chains and supporting industries and activities (such as transportation or housing).
These training programs should also provide participants with the ability to analyze the following:
- the main economic drivers within their jurisdiction and the ways their actions and outputs can affect regional or national economic dynamics;
- demographic and economic data that can inform decisions about priorities for restoration assistance to different private sector and nonprofit supply chains;
- the ways that different supply chain disruptions can impact economic conditions, locally and at higher levels (e.g., damage to fuel refineries, ports, or airports or flooding that affects businesses, local agriculture, tourist areas, and attractions);
- the cost of disaster response or mitigation actions versus the costs of not taking those actions (e.g., the cost of providing generator fuel to a grocery store versus the cost of providing emergency food and water to individuals who would have otherwise purchased those supplies at that store);
- considerations involved in balancing efforts to protect critical supply chain interests (e.g., a manufacturing facility of national importance) with efforts to meet immediate humanitarian needs in the affected area;
- societal and technical developments that can affect the dynamics of supply chains for particular commodities or locations (see Box 4.6).
This material could be provided to critical audiences through a variety of platforms and delivery methods, including:
- new courses in college emergency management programs focused on supply chain dynamics (e.g., vulnerabilities, impacts, restoration strategies);
- orientation training provided to new emergency managers, critical Emergency Operations Center staff and stakeholders, and newly elected government officials;
- in-person and online FEMA training classes—for law enforcement, fire department, and military officials who will be active in disaster operations; for FEMA incident management teams, federal coordinating officers, and regional operations; and for governmental budget and revenue personnel at all levels of government;
- “just-in-time” training provided to Emergency Operations Center personnel, with specific information tailored to address the disaster at hand (e.g., for a flood in Houston, consider the impacts of shutting down refineries shortly before Labor Day).
Section 4.2 discussed the need for information collection and analysis frameworks that allow decision makers to assess the local, state, and national impacts of supply chain interruptions under a variety of possible scenarios. Developing these frameworks and analysis methodologies is important not only for direct operational application but also for education and training purposes. This sort of training could help decision makers evaluate complex questions such as the following:
- What are the life safety implications of this incident at the local, state/tribal/territorial, and national levels?
- What are the direct economic impacts of different courses of action in a given situation? For example, what is the cost to rectify the problem, and who might cover these costs? What is the cost of not correcting the situation? (For instance, if the grocery store closes because it does not have fuel, how much will it cost for the government to provide food and water for affected citizens?)
- What are the indirect economic impacts of different courses of action in a given situation? What is the potential loss of revenue at each jurisdictional level if the situation is not rectified? (For instance, if a bridge to a barrier island is not opened during tourist season, there are potential losses of revenue from local and state sales taxes, property taxes, and state and federal income taxes.) What is the compounding economic impact if a particular resource or facility is disrupted? (For instance, the loss of a saline manufacturing facility will lead to a delay in medical procedures, potentially causing dire medical situations and higher medical bills paid by private and government insurance.)
- What organization, at what level, has the most appropriate, timely, and cost-effective resources to rectify a given disruption?
This level of attention to macro- and microeconomic conditions during disasters, while not traditional, is entirely appropriate for emergency management training, given that elected officials and the public often demand accountability for ensuring that disaster response resources are optimally utilized.
These training activities can be highly complementary to the activities discussed in earlier recommendations—accomplishing several important goals simultaneously. For instance, expert-led workshops and courses can be planned both to train participants about basic supply chain concepts and to help the participants evaluate the actual supply chain dynamics and supporting infrastructures within their own jurisdictions—thus advancing the system-scale understanding discussed under Recommendation 2. Likewise, these training activities can be valuable opportunities for informal engagement between emergency management officials and key players in local and regional supply chain operations, who can share insights beyond just the generic operational information covered in formal trainings. As discussed under
Recommendation 3, this type of relationship-building has benefits beyond simple knowledge transfer; it can help build a level of personal comfort and trust that makes it far easier for people to work together under stressful disaster response conditions.
Recommendation 4. Develop and administer training on supply chain dynamics and best practices for private-public partnerships that enhance supply chain resilience.
Some key steps and strategies to advance this recommendation are to
- Provide all stakeholders engaged in emergency management of disasters with at least a base level of training about supply chain dynamics, and provide senior decision makers, elected officials, and governmental financial officers with advanced training that focuses on the economic impacts of disasters—all phases, not just recovery.
- Provide private and nonprofit entities access to training that fosters understanding of needs and opportunities to engage with government organizations in disaster preparation and response.
- Advance development of processes, data, and models to support decision making related to supply chains during disaster operations.
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