Redefining Regional Planning

In the wake of recent disasters including September 11, 2001, and the 2005 hurricane season, regional planning has become a high priority. Despite the 2007 release of the National Preparedness Guidelines, improving regional collaboration has continued to be a significant challenge and remains immeasurable. Regional operational plans are ineffective during disasters because of the differing goals of the jurisdictions within that region. It is evident that regions should be formed naturally based on how jurisdictions usually interact with each other. Regional planning is ineffective today because the federal funding process does not promote regional planning as a main goal. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified Expanding Regional Collaboration as a National Priority; however, DHS does not effectively target this priority with grant money. To accomplish true regional collaboration, it is important to remember that all disasters are local. The federal government has become highly reactionary to major incidents and has forgotten this basic truth. Federal policies are built from the top down and do not effectively facilitate the traditional decentralized system of emergency management. The overhaul of existing systems to conform with national policies has resulted in less effective planning and disaster response. Regional planning needs to incorporate local jurisdictions and define their roles and processes. Local operational plans must be developed in concert with each other. Plans created for the region should be regional coordination plans. Additionally, the grant money must be tied closer to the National Priority of Expanding Regional Cooperation.

This article was published in the September/October 2010 issue of the Journal of Emergency Management

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