"Burying" FEMA in DHS was "huge structural and operational mistake"

plan and prepare under that scenario. Critical to this will be pre-executed mutual aid agreements with our neighbors. Other town and cities, our township, our county, and our region will be the people that can get help to us in time to make a difference. This needs to be a key element in our emergency preparedness planning.

Secondly is the importance of helping our residents and businesses to be ready to sustain themselves for at least seventy-two hours. Emergency responders will be focused on helping those in immediate danger or the injured. The better our community is prepared to take care of themselves for a short time, the more successful we will weather the emergency or disaster.

HSNW: The onus for preparing and responding to disasters does not only fall upon the federal government, but also local governments. In the decade since 9/11, there has been an increasing focus on preparing local governments to respond to major disasters or terrorist attacks. Naturally, each city, county, and state varies, but on the whole, how would you rate local preparedness? Did local governments prove themselves in the latest round of disasters?

AH: I feel that Colorado is one of the better prepared states to deal with the disasters we expect and to respond to those we didn’t. At the local level, the vast majority of Colorado towns, cities, and counties actively work toward maintaining their readiness. From the Colorado Division of Emergency Management all the way down to my city we plan, practice, and modify our protocols and tactics to keep us at a level where we will be able to hold our own in a major incident until our response partners can arrive to assist.

A couple of years ago the community of Windsor, just east of my city, experienced the sort of tornado that is extremely rare along the Front Range of Colorado. Many of the neighboring communities, including Evans, had staff and equipment on the scene to help in rescue, response, and event management. That help continued for several days. This incident showed us the importance of all the planning, training, and preparedness work we’d been doing for years. The key is planning! Without that foundation everything else is just unfocused activity. Most important for us is to remember that it can happen here! The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are we ready?”

HSNW: Communicating with residents during a disaster has been