Corporate executives from such companies as Target and Big Lots are spending three months at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer their expertise at disaster response. The program is a key initiative of FEMA administrator Craig Fugate
, The Washington Post reported
Fugate said only looking at the government’s role in a disaster is “myopic.” He said he noticed how quickly businesses could pivot when he was director of Florida’s emergency management program when Hurricane Wilma struck and businesses were up and running before emergency supplies were delivered, the Post said.
Residents showed up to get water and ice while carrying food from fast-food joints. Fugate said, "We found ourselves competing with the retail sector. We weren't talking to them, so we didn't know they were learning and getting better," the Post said.
A number of states have developed partnerships with businesses to work on disaster relief and FEMA created a special office in 2007 to do the same. Target’s Katie Dempsey inaugurated the program in November and she will be replaced with a representative from Big Lots this month, the Post said.
Dempsey recently spent a morning monitoring retailers’ reactions to a major snow storm that swept across the Midwest and Northeast. Retailers such as Lowe’s and SuperValu had lost power but were quick to reopen, with one store operating on natural light from a skylight.
The information was transferred to a map a test program FEMA hopes could eventually track the status of retailers across the country, the Post said.
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