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Hurricane Irma and the Importance of Mutual Aid Agreements

Hurricane Irma and the Importance of Mutual Aid Agreements

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By Allison G.S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

As the local and state governments of Texas and Louisiana work to recover from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma has caused devastation in the Caribbean. In addition, Irma is currently threatening Florida, Georgia and other U.S. states.

Hurricane Irma isn’t a storm to shrug off. It will wreak serious havoc if it hits the U.S. mainland as a Category 5 or a Category 4 storm, because U.S. resources are already compromised with the cleanup and recovery from Hurricane Harvey. However, Irma proves the importance of mutual aid agreements when resources are limited at the federal level of government.

Learn more about Hurricane Irma

Why Are Mutual Aid Agreements Important?

Mutual aid agreements between local governments and state governments become particularly important when dealing with a serious storm like Irma. These agreements create the network that allows for the appropriate management of a disaster.

Types of Mutual Aid Agreements

Mutual aid agreements are some of the most important emergency management policies, because they allow for a rapid increase of resources in the midst of a disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lists on their website some of the mutual aid agreements that exist:

  • Local
  • Regional
  • Interstate
  • International

All of these agreements refer to the concept that the next local government, region, state or country has agreed to assist with necessary resources, long before a disaster hits. The agreement means that if resources are compromised in one area, additional resources will come to help emergency management agencies to deal with issues. Mutual aid agreements highlight the importance of the Incident Command System and complement it as additional resources are needed to effectively manage a disaster.

When major events like Hurricane Harvey or Irma occur, mutual aid agreements become an integral part of effective disaster management. While many Americans may now be concerned about the federal government’s ability to effectively handle the impact of Hurricane Irma, mutual aid agreements at the local and state levels of government will help with the management of Hurricane Irma.

Why Are Disaster Resources Compromised?

Hurricane Irma’s predicted hit to the U.S. mainland comes at a time when recovery efforts for Hurricane Harvey are in full swing. The local and state governments of Texas and Louisiana are still working to recover from Hurricane Harvey.

While the damage from Hurricane Harvey is currently being managed by Texas and Louisiana’s governments, numerous nonprofit organizations are also in the midst of the recovery efforts and have provided a variety of different resources. From this perspective, it may be difficult for some nonprofit organizations to assist in both disasters, which will compromise some of the response efforts.

Mutual Aid Agreements Play a Vital Role in Community Recovery

Mutual aid agreements create a network that allows for the appropriate management of a disaster. More importantly, emergency management plans have tightened with the last few storms, creating a substantial effort to protect property and lives.

While Hurricane Irma will certainly complicate emergency management efforts, mutual aid agreements will help emergency managers to deal with the damage from both Harvey and Irma. Eventually, affected communities will recover from any harm Harvey or Irma cause.

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