What do EM’s have to cheer about this holiday season?

Hurricane and fire seasons are now, for the most part, behind us. Those who chose to prepare this year for severe winter weather have already begun to do so.  Many are attending an annual conference this week in Las Vegas.  Daylight Savings Time is now in effect.  One can almost feel a degree of seasonal program hibernation set in.

Late November and December are traditional down times for many emergency managers.  They temporarily lose program stakeholders to vacation. They await federal and state program guidance, and funding obligations. Some take advantage of the relative quiet to wrap-up projects or slip in one last training or drill. Most try to enjoy an uneasy calm before the next storm but work to keep the proverbial “lights on” while others are away.

The last five weeks of the calendar year, however,  offer the best opportunity most emergency managers have to think strategically about the future.  States will soon ask local jurisdictions for the input necessary to administer grant programs.  Annual budget processes will also soon begin at the local level. Emergency managers should take the time to recline in their chairs, put their feet up and think about how to make incremental, measurable and cost-effective program improvements.

One of the best improvements a program can make is to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS).  Established as an incentive program within the National Flood Insurance program, the CRS rewards jurisdictions for making improvements to their management of flood risk and emergencies. The program offers certain flood insurance policy holders up to 45% off their annual insurance premiums. Many of the requirements are easy to meet, yet only 1,300 of23,000 (about 5%) of local jurisdictions in the U.S. are enrolled in the program.

Emergency managers looking to make a smart strategic investment should consider participating in the CRS. It is one of the easiest, valuable and visible ways to invest in program success. More information about the CRS is available at:  http://www.fema.gov/community-rating-system.

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