Urban challenges and opportunities for FEMA during the Trump administration

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Seven disaster researchers and I have written a brief paper on the challenges likely to be faced by emergency management, especially by FEMA and in sanctuary cities (cities where there is no cooperation with federal officials in identifying undocumented immigrants). If you have questions, want to help with or could benefit from our longer-term research and advocacy – including modeling the impact of President Trump’s policies on risk – write me directly at aaroncg [at] stanford [dot] edu
In short, some of President Trump’s policy decisions have the potential to affect disaster risk in the United States and have direct and indirect impacts on FEMA’s operations in urban spaces. For instance, reductions in public entitlement programs can increase vulnerability and reduce capacities to cope and to recover among the poorest and most marginalized urban residents. This will hit women, children, older people, people living with disabilities and various religious and ethnic/ racial groups particularly hard. One only as to keep an eye on the attack on the water sacred (and physiologically necessary) to native Americans in North Dakota to see what is likely to happen. Relaxed environmental regulation can intensify hazards and cascading hazard impacts. Policies based on denial of climate science will likely accelerate the impact of climate-related hazards in some highly exposed urban areas within the administration’s four-year term. President Trump has already attempted to censor EPA scientists and others. Public access to federal science data is under threat. Devolving risk management more fully to state level can make it more difficult to manage trans-boundary risks. Privatizing prevention, response, and recovery can make it more difficult for the poor to access the services they need. Blocking federal funding to sanctuary cities can reduce their ability to manage emergencies effectively. Xenophobic rhetoric and aggressive pursuit of an anti-immigrant policy will likely drive undocumented residents ‘underground’ and make them less accessible to care providers in cities and less likely to participate in emergency preparedness programs.

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