US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

FEMA released its 2017 Hurricane Season FEMA After-Action Report on July 12. Last year, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated the nation. The hurricanes caused a combined $265 billion in damage and were each among the top five costliest hurricanes on record. As a result, FEMA coordinated large deployments of federal personnel, both before and after the storms’ landfalls, to support response and initial recovery efforts across 270,000 square miles. FEMA facilitated logistics missions that involved more than $2 billion in commodities moving across several states and territories using multiple modes of transportation. FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, composed of state and local emergency responders, saved or assisted nearly 9,500 lives across the three hurricanes. During the hurricane responses, California also experienced historic wildfires. In total, the hurricanes and California wildfires affected more than 47 million people — almost 15 percent of the nation’s population. FEMA registered nearly 4.8 million households for assistance.

As a cornerstone of the discipline, emergency managers use lessons from disasters in order to improve outcomes, minimize errors and better serve survivors. Following the 2017 hurricane season, FEMA conducted an after-action review of the agency’s preparations for, immediate response to and initial recovery operations for hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The report identified 18 key findings across five focus areas and offered targeted, agency-wide recommendations for improvements as well as broader lessons for partners throughout the whole emergency management community.

FEMA is focused on the 2018 hurricane season. The agency has taken immediate actions based on the findings from the report. These actions include, but are not limited to: updated hurricane plans, annexes and procedures for states and territories; increased planning factors for the Caribbean and disaster supplies; and updated high priority national level contracts. FEMA has also exercised its response and initial recovery capabilities in the National Level Exercise 2018, which occurred in May and focused on thematic areas identified from real-world continuous improvement findings in this after-action review.

FEMA has incorporated many of the findings from this report into its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, which will guide implementation of long-term goals to build a more prepared and resilient nation. Recommendations identified in the 2017 Hurricane Season FEMA After-Action Report support 10 of the agency’s 12 strategic objectives including Strategic Plan Objective 1.4 to better learn from past disasters, improve continuously and innovate. The 2017 Hurricane Season FEMA After-Action Report captures transformative insights from a historic hurricane season that will help the agency, the emergency management community and the nation chart a path into the future.