Edited Version of February 18, 1998 Transcript
EIIP Virtual Forum Online Panel Discussion

Topic: "Project Impact: What’s the Impact for State and Local Programs?"

Featured Panelists:

Randall Duncan, CEM, President
National Coordinating Council on Emergency Management (NCCEM)
Coordinator for Cowley County, Kansas Civil Defense

Diana McClure, Director
Showcase Communities
Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)

Stanley McKinney, President
National Emergency Management Association (NEMA)
Director of South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division

Susan Schneider, Manager
New York State Emergency Management Office (EMO)
Joint Loss Reduction Partnership Project

EIIP Panel Moderator - Avagene Moore, CEM, EIIP Coordinator
EIIP Virtual Forum Moderator - Amy Sebring
EIIP Virtual Forum Gatekeeper - Kevin Farrell

The original transcript of the February 18, 1998 online Virtual Forum panel discussion is available in the EIIP Virtual Forum Archives (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the panelists to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.

The Discussion:

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! We are honored to have our panelists and our audience today. Before we begin our panel discussion, I want to briefly inform you of the order of business for the day. Our distinguished speakers will address today’s topic for 30-35 minutes. We will open the floor for questions at that time.

This is a moderated session which means your questions go to our moderator who will inject questions as appropriate to our panelists individually or collectively. As members of the audience, you may word and send your questions to the moderator at any point of the discussion. However, it may be wise to wait a few minutes because the speakers may address your question in their remarks. If you have a question that is not addressed, there will be a few minutes for one-on-one Q&A in the Brown Bag session immediately following.

We will in no way exhaust the discussion of today’s topic in this online discussion. The Virtual Forum Discussion Groups may be used for ongoing dialogue of any topic related to and of interest to the emergency management community. Please check out and use the Mitigation Discussion Group for further discussion and awareness of Project Impact, Showcase Communities, and other mitigation success stories and issues as they evolve.

We request no direct messaging to our speakers or the moderator during the formal part of today’s session. Please save any side conversations until we are in the informal Brown Bag session. And now, today's discussion.

It is a pleasure to introduce our panelists (alphabetically) who will address today’s feature topic: "Project Impact - Part II: What’s the impact for state and local programs?"

Randall Duncan, CEM, President of the National Coordinating Council on Emergency Management (NCCEM), Coordinator for Cowley County, Kansas Civil Defense

Diana McClure, Director of Showcase Communities, Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)

Stanley McKinney, President of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), Director, South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division

Susan Schneider, Manager, New York State Emergency Management Office (EMO) Joint Loss Reduction Partnership Project

Question -

Avagene Moore: In last month’s discussion about FEMA’s mitigation initiative, we heard from representatives of two Project Impact pilot communities - Pascagoula, MS and Deerfield Beach, FL. Deerfield Beach is also a Showcase Community in the IBHS initiative. Diana, I understand you are coming to us today from Deerfield Beach in your capacity as Director of the IBHS Showcase Communities. Give us a little more detail about the IBHS Showcase Community initiative. What is its purpose and what do you hope to achieve?

Diana McClure: The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is an initiative of the insurance industry whose mission is to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters. One strategy to fulfill the mission is the Showcase Community Program, organized around 14 criteria which a community agrees to address in order to become disaster resistant and less vulnerable to natural disasters.

There are 3 objectives: Help communities help themselves; generate a "me too" attitude by showcasing successes; and learn what works.

Two pilots to date: Evansville/Vanderburgh County, Indiana; and Deerfield Beach/Broward County, Florida.

Question -

Avagene Moore: Susan, you manage the Joint Loss Reduction Project for the New York State Emergency Management Office. Please give us a little background on your project --- How did it start? What is the status of the project at the moment?

Sue Schneider: Given the effects of several recent disasters on the business community and the growing national emphasis on public/private partnerships in emergency management, our office joined forces with several private sector representatives to do something tangible about formalizing these partnerships. The project began in January 1997, with the formation of 5 regional business/government task forces, whose mission was to identify areas of need. Based upon their recommendations, the State Joint Loss Reduction Partnership Committee was established to find solutions to those needs.

The full committee began meeting in October 1997, and plans on meeting bi-monthly through September 1998. There are six subcommittees that meet as well, devoted to the major areas of need identified, such as emergency access of business personnel, communications between sectors, resource clearing house. The solutions generated by the project will be published in a final report by December 1998, with recommendations for local implementation.

Question -

Avagene Moore: How many businesses and organizations are involved at this time?

Sue Schneider: There are over 35 businesses and government agencies involved.

Question -

Avagene Moore: Stanley, as President of NEMA, how does NEMA relate to the Project Impact initiative?

Stan McKinney: NEMA is the states' emergency management focal point concerning national programmatic and legislative initiatives. Project Impact is recognized by NEMA as an important and innovative pre-disaster mitigation effort. Nationwide expansion of this effort beyond the initial seven pilot projects will only be successful with state support and leadership. NEMA is in an ideal position to serve as a clearinghouse for lessons learned and innovative success stories from various Project Impact communities and intends to fulfill this role in coordination with FEMA. While confusion and uncertainty about program implementation still exists within NEMA, the association is anxious to collaborate with FEMA and fully supports this innovative pre-disaster mitigation effort.

Avagene Moore: As the Director of the Emergency Preparedness Division for the State of South Carolina, how will this impact mitigation in your own state program?

Stan McKinney: Project Impact could play a vital role in energizing South Carolina's pre-disaster mitigation program. Hopefully, the first selected community will serve as a positive and guiding demonstration effort that can be duplicated in many communities statewide. South Carolina's mitigation program has lacked a common marketable and financially acceptable theme in the past. This concept has the potential to rekindle many post-Hugo beliefs and commitments that mitigation can indeed make a difference in South Carolina. We must understand, FEMA and state, that to be successful only our technical assistance and financial support should be aggressively provided to local governments. Beyond that, opportunities for real success only rest within local communities and their citizenry.

Question -

Avagene Moore: Randy, as the current NCCEM President, what is NCCEM’s role in this effort?

Randall Duncan: While NCCEM / IAEM doesn't have a specific series of points / positions on Project Impact, we are VERY supportive of the general concept. We see this as another mechanism to help lower the general cost of disasters. We stand ready to provide the expertise of our members in local government, private enterprise and the military.

Question -

Avagene Moore: As a local emergency manager, what do you envision and hope for as the outcome of this initiative as it gains momentum?

Randall Duncan: If we can create the necessary templates, and borrow "pieces and parts" that fit within our local jurisdictions. We'll be able to expand the impetus of the original project out into every community. It is necessary that we jointly understand how to reduce the outlandish costs of disasters across the board, not just shift them from one level of government to another.

Question -

Avagene Moore: To all our panelists: Both FEMA and IBHS initiatives include strategies for developing model communities. How will what we learn from these initiatives be translated into better programs for all communities?

Diana McClure: Those utilizing the 14 criteria are finding them useful organizing tools to develop a comprehensive mitigation strategy. Broward County will use them as one of its cornerstones for development of Local Mitigation Strategies for all its municipalities. IBHS has Statements of Understanding with many federal agencies, professional groups (such as NEMA) and non-profits -- they can become spokespersons for lessons learned. Development of Disaster Recovery Business Alliances brings in the private sector, which can be a powerful voice at the local level.

Randall Duncan: I believe this is an area where both NCCEM / IAEM and NEMA have common interests. We want to work together to find the right "pieces & parts" to expand the Project Impact philosophy far and wide.

Sue Schneider: The products and systems recommended by the Joint Loss Reduction Project will provide a mechanism for the business community and the public sector to work more effectively together in creating disaster resistant communities. Our plan is to take these products and pilot them in the communities that are identified as Project Impact communities in New York state.

Stan McKinney: State mitigation efforts must learn from and promote what is learned in pilots to other local jurisdictions who are partners in developing disaster resistance.

Diana McClure: In addition, IBHS insurance company members will be a powerful voice for mitigation. Between 50-60% of the property casualty insurers that write business in the U.S. are members of IBHS.

Question -

Avagene Moore: Another question to each panelist, in no particular order --- What is your dream or vision for mitigation relative to your respective organizations as result of the spotlight on selected communities?

Diana McClure: That mitigation becomes a "public value," integrated into daily decision making of government, the private sector, and individuals; that people will understand and accept their interdependence with Mother Nature and take responsibility for the choices they make in how to live with her and that the end result will be incorporating mitigation into a sustainable community concept.

Randall Duncan: As a local emergency manager, I hope that one day my community will be "rated" on it's resistance to disaster. I hope that my citizens will have the opportunity of knowing because we are prepared, they have the benefit of discounted insurance premiums. I believe this will have the potential to make my community more competitive in economic development issues.

Sue Schneider: That the business sector will have a formalized connection to the private sector and a system of support for reducing losses.

Opening the Floor to the Audience -

Avagene Moore: Are there any questions from the audience?


Romey Brooks: Given that the first responders (fire, EMS, etc) are usually the first on the scene of any disaster, natural or non-natural, would one of the panelists please comment on what plans Project Impact has for a much greater involvement of the fire and EMS community?

Randall Duncan: While response is ALWAYS important to dealing with the immediate impact of an event, the REAL expense in disasters is recovery. I am a firm supporter of response capabilities, but the real area to save funding in disasters is in recovery / mitigation. If we make our communities more resistant to the onset of disasters, we'll have more resources available for response.

Stan McKinney: Response and recovery efforts remain critical to overall emergency management service delivery. NEMA sees opportunities for integration of all functions into Project Impact, but NEMA has testified before Congress that prevention cannot be undertaken at the expense of response.

Claire Rubin: Can non-pilot cities do some of the same things that Project Impact cities are doing?

Diana McClure: Yes. Many communities that have seen the 14 criteria IBHS has developed have stated they are a useful organizing tool to develop a comprehensive mitigation strategy. As success stories emerge from the pilot Showcase Communities, organizations with which IBHS has Statements of Understanding can become the messengers and help these communities.

Stan McKinney: Certainly, all cities and communities can implement the concepts of Project Impact and this will be necessary for the program to become a reality.

Sue Schneider: Education and awareness of loss reduction activities and the responsibility we all have to maintain the safety and economic health of our communities should occur in all communities.

Question -

Amy Sebring: Diana, are 14 criteria available online anywhere?

Diana McClure: IBHS has a homepage -- I am not sure if they are up yet, but I will consult immediately with the appropriate people. Meanwhile, e-mail me at [email protected] You may also e-mail [email protected] for the criteria.

Question -

Shari Coffin: For Sue Schneider: What kinds of products and systems do you expect the loss reduction project to recommend?

Sue Schneider: We have several committees currently working on developing systems of communication between business and government as well as establishing regional clearing houses for resources identification, information, training. We are also looking at the framework needed to ensure access for business emergency personnel and supplies to maintain business continuity.

John NelsonSD: Stan: What is your understanding of how much money will be given to each state to fund Project Impact activities, if Congress gives FEMA exactly what has been asked for?

Stan McKinney: NEMA has asked this question directly of FEMA and examined the budget closely, but don't have the exact answer. It appears that their will be between $500,000 and $1 million available per community.

Question -

M T Miller: During the recovery phase of a flood disaster, do you promote coordination with the state coordinator for the NFIP?

Stan McKinney: NEMA sees the NFIP coordinator as a critical player in this process.

Randall Duncan: Local emergency managers should also promote coordination with NFIP. If that's not a part of the strategy to reduce loss overall from disasters, there's a major problem!

Question -

Keith Bea: Sharing information from demonstration communities is great, but there is a downside in the age of instant communications. Are we allowing enough time to let mitigation activities "ferment" before the practices are shared by other communities? The private sector impacts, particularly on property owners, could be significant.

Diana McClure: I agree. That is why IBHS is starting with two pilot communities, and we want to have a good idea of what seems to be working before we select more; our member companies agree.

Stan McKinney: Keith, I agree, but it is very important to keep the momentum. South Carolina had very limited success following Hugo keeping the fires burning.

Question -

Shari Coffin: How should a statewide effort, such as New York's, be integrated with the local-level efforts of a Project Impact? Do they each have a separate focus?

Sue Schneider: We see the business/government partnerships that we hope to create as being a natural asset to any Project Impact community. The products we are developing will be implemented at the local level.

Stan McKinney: Shari, while the state and local focus should be common, variations in implementation strategies are bound to occur. I think this will be healthy for the total effort.

Question -

Keith Bea: Randall, who will rate communities and who will establish the criteria? Are the 14 IBHS criteria acceptable? Perhaps we should save the question of criteria components for another time.

Randall Duncan: I think this is an area that we will be learning more about from our colleagues over in the Fire Services. They, for years, have worked with the ISO on rating systems as applied to fire insurance premiums. In order for there to be a meaningful rating, it's going to have to come from someone the Insurance Industry will accept.

Stan McKinney: Randall, I also think that many lessons have already been learned in the fire arena that we must take advantage of as we move forward,

M T Miller: It's ASFPM’s view that mitigation planning should begin at the local level and be integrated into the state's mitigation plan. ISO is on contract to FEMA to review applications for CRS --- community rating system.

Stan McKinney: I agree and hope that I have been clear that successful mitigation must start at the local level.

Question -

Keith Bea: Okay, let's talk costs. Much of the discussion of mitigation has stressed the cost savings (note Randall's comment above). In summary, retrofitting and relocating and other activities can cost millions and billions. What's the cost share, who is doing what, and have NEMA and NCCEM/IAEM set policy on this issue?

Randall Duncan: I agree with you, Keith. The bottom line always comes down to the bucks. It is NCCEM / IAEM's position that the OVERALL costs of disasters need to be lowered. Any strategy which simply shifts the costs from one level of government to another is not acceptable. The issue of retrofit is an important one. I wish I had all the answers on that, but in all honesty I don't. Funding spent on retrofit ought to fit into the emergency management cost formula somewhere.

Stan McKinney: NEMA is very interested in determining the reasonable cost share for all impacted units of government for all phases of this industry. We are in search of the data that will assist us in developing a position.

Closing -

Avagene Moore: This has been an exciting discussion, folks. Thanks to our audience today! And a special thank you to our panelists. Remember we can carry on this discussion in the Mitigation Discussion Group. This topic is still wide open and will be for some time to come.

If you will, please move to the Virtual Forum. If our panelists can hang around for just a few minutes as a follow up and to receive congratulations on a fine session. Thanks to all and we will move to the Virtual Forum for the Brown Bag session.

The Brown Bag Session Immediately Following (discussion continued):

Amy Sebring: Excellent job one and all. Very useful discussion.

Avagene Moore: We covered a lot of ground in the discussion today. This is one topic with great potential for future discussions as lessons learned and success stories come forth from various efforts.

Randall Duncan: Yes, Avagene, and from looking at the preliminary budget numbers for the FEMA FY 99 budget, it looks like a lot more of their resources are going to be devoted to mitigation and potentially less on traditional EM funding (i.e., SLA).

Isabel McCurdy: Excellent discussion, being Canadian, terms like ISO, ASFPM are unfamiliar; could someone explain what they mean?

Avagene Moore: ASFPM is Association of State Flood Plain Managers, Isabel.

Randall Duncan: ISO is International Standards Organization.

Leon Shaifer: Randall, the FEMA FY99 Budget has a rocky road ahead, but you are right about the funding shift. SLA 100 moneys will probably be shifted to fund the 50 million pre-disaster mitigation (Project Impact) program. We'll have to wait and see!

Neil Blais: I really think there is enough here for another panel session. Particularly insurance premiums and mitigation benefits to homeowners, multi-hazard mitigation etc. I would love to hear the panels thoughts on these items.

Amy Sebring: There is always next year!

Avagene Moore: I would like us to take this discussion into the Mitigation Discussion Group -- should be a lively topic.

Randall Duncan: I concur there is enough for more panel discussions. It appears Project Impact will mark a potential fundamental "shift" within our field, and may become the defining moment. As such, there's going to be room for lots of discussion for some time.

Chip Hines: I agree. This is a hot topic, receiving much attention in the community, and it will evolve rather quickly. I think additional discussions would be of interest.

Leon Shaifer: It would be most interesting to include the "dos and don'ts " from states presently involved with PI projects. States could greatly benefit from knowing in advance the problems faced by states who are forging ahead with current PI communities.

Sue Schneider: I agree with Leon's comments - perhaps that could be a panel discussion.

R Samuel Winningham: Randall, for Iowa, Project Impact will not cause a major shift from our current procedures

Randall Duncan: Sam, you are right. Unfortunately the criteria I was applying to my previous statement was from our days of concentration on the population protection planning program -- I guess our "Civil Defense" days. This is a marked change (and in my opinion a "better" change) from our former orientation.

Destin Frost: I'm sorry to log on late but does someone know how I can get a transcript of today's session regarding Project Impact? I am part of a NEMA sub-committee that is putting together a "lessons learned" document for State EM Directors.

Amy Sebring: Destin --- regarding transcript. Will be posted with the background info for today's session or you can find by going to Virtual Library Archive. We will have it up by the weekend.

Avagene Moore: We will be starting a 'round table' discussion on a regular schedule in the very near future. This topic can be pursued there. However, since this is going to be an ongoing thing for months and years ahead (hopefully), the Mitigation Discussion Group is ideal. Key points derived from that vehicle can then be used as basis for more formal discussions such as today's.

Gilbert Gibbs: Ava - The Virtual Library looks like a very valuable resource for all of us for details not covered in most discussions.

Avagene Moore: Yes, Gilbert. We are posting edited and unedited transcripts which means the info conveyed lives on for a long time. Also there are other resources there. We check out our links on our site often. However, we would like partners and others to let us know if something changes. Even email addresses make a big difference.

Is Isabel still online? I wanted to let everyone know that Isabel McCurdy is one of the EIIP's interns now. She has graciously assumed the role of the EIIP Librarian. We have great plans for making the Virtual Library grow with Isabel's assistance. Ashley Streetman will work with us as the EIIP Outreach Coordinator. She was online for the first hour. We also have Lee Ann Nicholson taking the position of EIIP Education Coordinator. Great to have all three aboard.

Thanks to all for time and input today. The EIIP Brown Bag session is officially closed for the day. Come back next week!