NPLI Confronts Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria

Hurricane Harvey has lashed Texas with significant winds and unprecedented rains. Thousands are homeless and rescue operations continue. Then Irma blasted across the Caribbean, across Florida, and into the southeastern United States. Marina wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico and other islands. We have heard from many NPLI alumni involved in the response and know that many more are working to help the affected communities cope. There are many opportunities for meta-leadership–and we are confident that true leaders will rise to the occasion.

Of particular concern in the early days of the response are coordination, cooperation, and collaboration across the various government, non-

Dr. Marcus observes as Brad Kaiserman of the American Red Cross briefs his team.

profit, and private sector organizations involved. Harvey is the first natural disaster of this scale faced by the new Administration and its team. With Irma and Maria, they delivered an unprecedented one-two-three punch of water and wind. The scale and complexity of the response are immense. The devastation is extensive. Early positive experiences will help set the tone for the long road to recovery ahead.

In keeping with the NPLI’s commitment to field research, Dr. Leonard Marcus has embedded with the Red Cross. Other faculty members are making plans to visit the region as soon as conditions allow. In the meantime, the NPLI team is monitoring the situation and adding commentary to help educate the public. Distinguished Visiting Fellow, and former FEMA Deputy Director, Rich Serino has been active sharing his experience and perspective. On Monday, August 28 he spoke with the hosts of Pod Save America and CNBC. On Tuesday, he spoke with MSNBC.

More recently, Serino spoke with NBC News and praised the career responders at FEMA, ASPR, and other organizations. “It’s not one person, one program, one department that can do it alone,” he said. We are compiling all of these appearances on YouTube. Serino also spoke to MSNBC about the response to Maria in Puerto Rico:

NPLI alumni have also been in the news. As Irma swept into Alabama, the state’s head of emergency management, Brian Hastings (Cohort XV) spoke with NPR. Jono Anzalone (Cohort XI) of the American Red Cross discussed his experiences in the flooding in Bangladesh and in the U.S. after Harvey and Irma.