July 28, 2022
Deputy Administrator, FEMA
Building resilience through private-public partnerships is essential for moving through hardships such as COVID-19 and climate change in both domestic and global settings.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosted its 11th annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships Conference to discuss the need for readiness strategies to improve resilience. During the Day 1 opening keynote, Erik Hooks, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provided remarks about the importance of private-public partnerships and collaboration.
The Public Sector Must Help Build Resilience in Both Local Communities and Economies
According to Hooks, FEMA believes the key to helping communities recover from and mitigate the risk of disasters is “the resilience of both the local community and the local economy.”
“The reason I'm so adamant about this fact is [that] I've seen firsthand not only the devastating effects of natural disasters but the resurgence and rebuilding of local communities post-disaster,” he continued.
Before serving FEMA as deputy administrator, Hooks worked for the state of North Carolina for over 30 years.
“I've been fortunate to witness the service of some of our most outstanding first responders and military personnel during some of the most difficult events that our country can experience,” he said. “They rise to the occasion and face the toughest challenges.”
Hooks keeps these heroes in mind when forming FEMA’s mission to “help people before, during, and after [a] disaster.”
For instance, Hooks was in North Carolina in 2018 when Hurricane Florence devastated the state with subsequent flooding, leading to one of the costliest disasters in the state's history — with nearly $17 billion in damage and more than 75,000 damaged structures.
“Without the partnerships cultivated between state and local governments and the private sector, I know our recovery would not have been as successful or quick,” he added. “Those partnerships and the spirit of collaboration help thousands of my fellow North Carolinians get back to a sense of normalcy after some of the worst days of their lives.”
Federal, State, Local, and Tribal Governments Must Partner With Private and Nonprofit Sectors
Hooks stressed the importance of partnerships between the federal, state, local, and tribal governments with the private sector and nonprofit sectors. These partnerships fill gaps in the community’s response to disasters.
“Businesses of all sizes, faith-based groups, the nonprofit sector, and the American public, time and time again, step up in times of need because we recognize the power that comes with working together for good,” he explained.
That’s why FEMA established the National Business Emergency Operations Center, a “virtual clearing house to enhance information sharing between private industry partners and public agencies.”
“The values we share, both in government, private, and non-profit sectors, and the goals that we have for our nation allow us to prepare and plan during blue sky days and respond and support communities when the clouds are on the horizon,” Hooks said.
“The work we do at FEMA is enhanced when we have the support across public and private sectors,” he added. “We cannot make transformational change, meaningfully increase mitigation, and reduce human suffering from disasters for the next generation on our own. If we work together to strengthen the private-public partnerships, we'll be able to meet the challenges of today's disaster response and secure a brighter future for generations yet to come.”