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FEMA Releases COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season

Fine-Tuned Safety Strategy Helps Emergency Managers and Public

Officials Better Protect Florida Residents


A precise planning approach is one of the best forms of disaster support. FEMA’S recently released COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season offers this support to emergency managers and public officials by addressing the multi-faceted requirements for successfully maneuvering this year’s tropical storm activity. The guide is also beneficial to the private sector and non-governmental organizations by providing an understanding of the government’s posture, planning and readiness efforts.


Available in a downloadable PDF format, the detailed publication:

  • Describes anticipated challenges to disaster operations posed by COVID-19

  • Highlights planning considerations for emergency managers based on current challenges

  • Outlines how FEMA plans to adapt response and recovery operations

  • Creates a shared understanding of expectations between FEMA and emergency managers

  • Includes guidance, checklists and resources to support emergency managers response and reco

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Response planning and recovery planning are the two main sections of the guide. In each section, emergency managers will find detailed information on FEMA’s operating posture and guidance for SLTT (state, local, tribal and territorial) governments. The publication also features multiple pages of appendixes in which emergency managers will find checklists and resources on FEMA operations and COVID-19-related guidance.


Response Planning: Virtual is Vital


In the guide’s response planning section, emergency managers are urged to anticipate evolving and emergent incidents throughout the 2020 hurricane season that may require response operations with life-saving and life-sustaining efforts. SLTTs are also urged to be prepared to lead scalable and flexible response operations and adapt to adjustments in how FEMA implements disaster assistance and delivers programs.

And with many aspects of disaster response being conducted remotely this year, the guide states that SLTTs should be prepared to coordinate through virtual communications and ensure the public is aware that the FEMA application process may be virtual and not in-person due to health and safety considerations.











FEMA will minimize the number of personnel deploying to disaster-impacted areas and the number of new field deployments by using personnel already deployed to the impacted region, including FEMA Integration Team (FIT) members or other FEMA personnel already working at EOCs, deploying locally-available personnel, and leveraging remote disaster support.

The guide also states that FEMA Regional Administrators, in partnership with FEMA Headquarters (HQ), will evaluate risk in their regions and determine the most appropriate approach to deployments while considering the guidance and direction of public health officials and the factors established in the White House Guidelines.


To support virtual deployments and remote disaster operations, FEMA is planning to:

  • Increase communications to the public through social media platforms, virtual town halls, and coordinated messaging to survivors from FEMA officials and SLTT leadership, and ensure that all communications are provided in ways that are accessible to individuals with disabilities and limited English proficiency


  • Ensure remote disaster personnel have the most up-to-date policies and procedures, training needs are met, and supervisors have the tools needed to appropriately manage employees


  • Increase availability and deployment options for FEMA personnel to make informed decisions on how to support disaster operations while protecting the health and safety of the workforce


  • Continue use of virtual personnel mobilization center process to facilitate rapid deployment of personnel and ensure that deployed personnel receive information technology services as needed to prepare them to directly support impacted areas


  • Increase information technology support for remote disaster operations, including, but not limited to, remote inspection processes, remote preliminary damage assessments, and working with partners to pre-identify accessible technology platforms that can support virtual meetings with interagency, private sector, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), and SLTT partners


Recovery Planning: Flexibility is Key in Finding Solutions


FEMA advises SLTTs to be prepared to lead flexible recovery operations based on the organization’s adapted posture and procedures for implementing disaster assistance and program delivery. The following information is provided in the guide regarding the use of non-congregate shelters in the 2020 Hurricane Season.



In an emergency or major disaster declaration that authorizes Public Assistance (PA), Category B, Emergency Protective Measures, FEMA will adjust polices to allow SLTTs to execute non-congregate sheltering in the initial days of an incident. Non-congregate shelters include, but are not limited to, hotels, motels, and dormitories. FEMA Regional Administrators will have delegated authority to approve requests for non-congregate sheltering for hurricane-specific disasters for the 2020 season.





While not a single solution, this funding will assist with sheltering operations in the short-term. SLTTs will need to work with FEMA and NGO partners to determine how non-congregate options can be incorporated into larger sheltering plans.

SLTTs should coordinate with FEMA regions to:


  • Ensure adequate sheltering plans are in place and coordinated, including consideration of contractual agreements and federal funds (if required) in accordance with federal procurement standards


  • Plan for appropriate scope and duration for sheltering resources based on anticipated needs


  • Ensure that data, documentation, and tracking mechanisms are in place


  • Plan appropriate accessibility considerations for people with disabilities, and those with functions and access needs, and ensure adequate availability of such resources.


As part of the sheltering plan, SLTTs should outline a transition from non-congregate sheltering to alternate options, including Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) for eligible applicants if a major disaster declaration is approved, or for a timely termination when non-congregate sheltering is no longer needed.


FEMA urges emergency managers and SLTT partners to lead, innovate, and be resourceful to address the challenges of the 2020 hurricane season and adapt disaster operations to meet the needs of survivors. Additionally, FEMA reminds both groups to do what they do best−coordinate, communicate, and collaborate.

If you need assistance with a property damage claim this hurricane season or have questions regarding your homeowners insurance policy, HL Law Group can help. We focus our practice on property damage insurance claims. Give us a call at (855) 713-1212 or email us at info@hllawgroup.com.










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