August 15, 2022
Dear Colorado Emergency Managers;
2021 and the first half of 2022 continued to be incredible years for our Colorado Emergency Management Enterprise. While we are not completely through COVID-19’s transition from pandemic to endemic, most of our emergency management agencies were able to begin re-setting and preparing our communities to mitigate, respond and recover from what they may face next. This is also true for the Colorado Office of Emergency Management. We have experienced rapid growth in the SEOC, Recovery and Field Operations sections and now have a fully functioning emergency stockpile warehouse capability.
Over the next year, we will implement a robust and expanded individual and collective training program to strengthen our team’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from incidents and disasters. We will also continue to improve our Integrated Preparedness Plan (IPP) and develop our ability to support your integrated preparedness planning process and workshops. Thirty-six counties, or 56 percent, have now completed their first Colorado Emergency Preparedness Assessment (CEPA) and we are beginning to realize quality data and trends within our enterprise. I encourage those who have completed the CEPA to use it as a foundational element of your IPP. For those who have not completed one, please reach out to your field manager to get one scheduled.
Drawing from the CEPA, your input and our experiences over the last 18 months, I plan to focus on three areas over the next year: Recovery Preparedness, Mitigation and Emergency Operations Plans.
Recovering from a disaster may be the most difficult mission area in emergency management. Based on experiences with Cameron Peak, East Troublesome and Marshall fires and your input through the CEPA, we also know recovery preparedness is a concern in most jurisdictions. Recovery is a whole community effort, and I encourage you each to engage with your recovery partners in a deliberate effort to identify roles and responsibilities, authorities, and develop a recovery playbook so that your jurisdiction has a solid starting point to begin the recovery journey from. Two core capabilities, housing and economic recovery, stand out as areas that need particular focus.
Mitigation remains one of my focus areas, as it has since 2019. The CEPA identified Long Term Vulnerability Reduction as a statewide gap so work remains to be done in this area. Like recovery, mitigation is a community-wide effort so I ask you all as emergency managers to be the organizing force that brings partners together to find ways to reduce vulnerabilities to your key lifelines. In the next 12 months, 12 local Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMP) will expire. Please work with your partners to ensure your Hazard Mitigation Plan is current or in progress and that your jurisdiction is eligible for important FEMA mitigation programs if you experience a disaster. Over the next two years, we have more than $55 million in federal funding for mitigation. Let’s work together to make the most of it.
The pace of operations over the last two and a half years made it difficult to keep up with some of our foundational emergency management practices including keeping our Emergency Operations Plans current and viable. Over the next 12 months, let’s take some time to make sure our EOPs are up to speed and can be operationalized when needed. The data from the CEPA indicates that Logistics and Supply Chain Management is one response core capability that jurisdictions are concerned about. Another capability that requires constant attention is Public Information and Warning. This year we’ll roll out an EOP tool through Field Operations to help ensure we all have solid, functional EOPs. Your field managers will have more on this soon.
I look forward to partnering with you all as we take on these focus areas and continue to do the important work of ensuring our communities are as ready as possible in the event a disaster strikes. I remain incredibly proud to be part of our Colorado Emergency Management Enterprise and I am proud to serve Colorado alongside all of you.
Director, Colorado Office of Emergency Management