Disaster Recovery Roundtable

This podcast is a platform to explore, engage, and educate the emergency management community and will feature guests from diverse emergency management disciplines to discuss mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery topics intended to promote the exchange of ideas and best practices. Episode topics are developed from our team of disaster experts, listeners, and the clients we serve.
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Now displaying: November, 2020
Nov 30, 2020

The 2020 hurricane season ends November 30th. This hurricane season resulted in historic impacts across the U.S. including a record five landfalling storms hitting Louisiana. The effects from this season were felt in almost every state along the Gulf Coast and up the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. In fact, every coastal county or parish east of the Mississippi — except one — was under a tropical-related watch or warning at some point during the season. To put this historic season in perspective we welcome back Dr. Phil Klotzbach — one of the world’s leading researchers in tropical meteorology and heads up the research division at Colorado State University. 

Key Takeaways

  • One of the major takeaways from the 2020 Hurricane Season was the number of storms that underwent rapid intensification right at landfall. Another impact from this record season was the unusual activity in the last third of the season in October and November.
  • Louisiana was the hardest hit state with an historic five landfalling storms. This season’s atmospheric conditions produced a favorable environment for storms, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • As Dr. Klotzbach looks ahead to 2021 he predicts no significant El Nino or other major change in the atmosphere to indicate a dramatic change in next year’s season. Although, he doubts we will see the 2020 record number of storms repeated.  

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Nov 11, 2020

The United Way has over 1,100 chapters around the United States supporting needs in local communities. The United Way of the Mohawk Valley serves Oneida and Herkimer Counties in the Utica area of Upstate New York. The agency supports a variety of community programs including food banks, after school programs, job and career programs, tax filing services, and hosting the communities 2-1-1 network. 

About the United Way of the Mohawk Valley

United Way of the Mohawk Valley is an independent, volunteer-led, locally governed, non-profit organization that has been serving the people of the Mohawk Valley since 1921.

The Mohawk Valley chapter began as the Utica Community Chest on November 1, 1921. Founding executives included Fredrick T. Proctor, Warnick J. Kernan, and Frank X. Matt. Our United Way addresses the root causes of key issues, is accountable for stewardship of resources, and is accountable for short-term and long-term results. We partner with community volunteers to best serve the Mohawk Valley with the Board of Directors and several committees made up entirely of local volunteer experts and professionals.

The United Way of the Mohawk Valley is one of the community's largest nonprofits, funding dozens of local programs and initiatives. They work with funding partners to ensure outcomes are being met and impact is being made. Through their Strategic Investment process, United Way carefully analyzes local needs, as well as social and economic changes in the community before thoroughly reviewing the agency’s request for support. This process allows the agency to make tough, yet smart, goal-oriented decisions regarding the region's most critical needs. To be considered for United Way funding, each program must meet a number of important standards, including but not limited to the following; the agency must provide a human care service that meets an important need in the community, be governed by a board of volunteers, be legally recognized as a not-for-profit organization, comply with New York State (not-for-profit) audit guidelines, and operate at a reasonable cost.

Topics Covered

  • The United Way of the Mohawk Valley serves communities of all sizes and demographic makeup in Oneida and Herkimer Counties in Upstate New York.
  • The organization has raised over $1 million dollars in a special COVID-19 fund to support the community’s needs during the pandemic.
  • The organization is expanding its services to provide fresh food for families who need additional support from being out of work or experiencing a change in wages, children being home from school more, and other impacts of the pandemic.
  • The United Way’s 2-1-1 system can be expanded in a disaster to provide a text response service to help in providing feedback from the public who may need assistance immediately following a disaster.
  • In late October – early November of 2019, heavy rainfall caused significant flooding in the Utica area. The United Way of the Mohawk Valley played a crucial role in providing support to those impacted by the floods. As a member of the Herkimer-Oneida Organizations Active in Disasters (HOOAD), the United Way engaged those impacted through use of the 2-1-1 network.
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Way established a COVID-19 Fund in partnership with Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer Counites. Approximately $1 million was raised to purchase life-saving medical equipment, essential PPE, and cleaning supplies, increased access to food, offer technology support, and more. The Rising Phoenix Holdings Corporation provided donations to this fund. About 100,000 masks have been distributed to residents and organizations in need since March.
  • The United Way has created a Take and Make Meal Box campaign designed to provide meals for those impacted from the COVID pandemic. The program is being funded by a grant from the City of Utica and will support the distribution of over 4,500 boxes of food and supplies and hundreds of grocery store gift cards.

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Nov 5, 2020

The United Way has over 1,100 chapters around the United States supporting needs in local communities. The largest privately funded non-profit supports many needs, especially after a disaster. During 2020, the non-profit has stepped up to fill in the gaps typically provided by local organizations and agencies, including food banks, and other necessary services lacking as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Topics Covered:


  • United Way’s local chapters adjusted how they deliver services during the pandemic to account for families who have kids home from school, family members losing their jobs, and those who need supplemental food.
  • Many local nonprofits are struggling to deliver their normal services due to the pandemic, and the United Way is helping to step in and support those needs.
  • There are many ways for people to support the United Way. They can volunteer virtually, donate to their local chapter, or volunteer in-person with United Way activities in the community.
  • This year the United Way has supported several major disasters around the U.S. including the California Wildfires, the Gulf Coast hurricanes, and the pandemic impacts in communities around the country.

Additional Information

Nov 3, 2020

Sonoma County California has been impacted by numerous weather-related disasters in the last few years — from a historic drought to devastating wildfires in three of the last four years. In between the county experienced flooding and mudslides. These events have changed how Sonoma County prepares for disasters by improving mitigation efforts, expanding community outreach programs, increasing funding for emergency management, and providing multiple sources to alert the public of threats. Sonoma County District 4 Supervisor, James Gore shares how the county improved response to recent wildfires in 2020 as it continues to build community resilience.

Key Takeaways

  • Mitigating for disasters is key to ensuring communities can survive and recover from events including: How do you pre-defeat fires, How do you address sea level rise, etc.
  • The Tubbs and Sonoma Complex fires of 2017 were a wake-up call for Sonoma County. It identified the need to better alert and for notification systems to warn the public of potential threats. It was resulted in changes to how Sonoma County prepares including additional funding for its emergency management program, development of public education campaigns, and establishing mitigation programs to prevent harsh impacts from disasters.
  • Climate factors have impacted how wildfires are fueled in California including historic droughts, and changes in wind patterns.
  • Significant improvements were made to expand communication systems across the county to enhance alert and warning capabilities.
  • Community Resilience needs support from both elected officials and the emergency management community in order to be successful.
  • Emergency Operations Centers need to operate as a preparedness center and not as a “bunker.”
  • Dedicated funding to support mitigation and preparedness efforts is essential.
  • Reviewing evacuation procedures and exercising for potential disasters is crucial to being ready for the next disaster.
  • It's crucial for communities to routinely test their early warning and notification systems on a regular basis.

Additional information: