On the frontlines with FEMA helping communities recover
The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have battered many communities across the United States and decimated the critical infrastructure local citizens, government, and commerce rely on. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is charged with coordinating the resources required to respond to a range of emergencies and then help impacted communities recover. Accurately assessing the scope of damage that has occurred and determining the most effective way to rebuild and protect against future events is an essential part of FEMA’s mission.
Serco has supported FEMA’s Public Assistance Program with a wide range of advisory and technical assistance services for 20 declared major disasters and emergencies to helping communities get back on their feet.
Serco has supported FEMA’s Public Assistance Program with a wide range of advisory and technical assistance services for 20 declared major disasters and emergencies to helping communities get back on their feet. Operating under a new, more flexible model introduced in 2019, Serco assembles the specialized talent to assess the damage to essential public infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, public buildings, roads and bridges, and water and gas systems. Under our rapid-response model, Serco can deploy teams in the field within 24 to 48 hours to bring assistance where it is needed.
Serco’s team then collaborates with FEMA to develop plans to restore essential services and identify investments that can mitigate the impact of future foreseeable events. The scope includes oversight for grants to state and local governments and contract, finance, and audit support to protect taxpayer resources. Bryan Miller, deployment readiness manager for Serco, has the daunting task of assembling over 40 types of specialists on short notice, ranging from program managers and civil engineers to architects, environmental experts, horticulturists, industrial hygienists, and archaeologists.
“People doing this type of work are drawn by the rewards of having a direct impact on helping communities recover from disasters — they are the ones walking towards the destruction, eager to help,” Miller said. Serco is responsible for the central Zone 2 of 17 states across the Midwest, including Louisiana. "Over the last year, we had team members who were personally impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, and now most recently by Hurricane Ida. Those same team members are helping some of the hardest-hit communities get back on their feet.”
In response to the global pandemic in 2020, Serco’s team rapidly adapted their delivery approach to reduce the reliance on a disaster field office to employ digital communications platforms to share information and coordinate recovery efforts. Given the urgency of the need, the team quickly adapted to COVID safety protocols that enabled them to get help into the field to support FEMA and the impacted citizens.
People doing this type of work are drawn by the rewards of having a direct impact on helping communities recover from disasters — they are the ones walking towards the destruction, eager to help.
Outcomes that matter
Under the new model for Public Assistance, Serco has been able to help FEMA to reduce the expense of retaining large numbers of dedicated technical experts and provide surge support as required by the specific needs of each declared emergency. These programs offer an attractive career path for seasoned professionals who enjoy the challenge and emotional rewards of solving complex infrastructure challenges. As the nation learns to adapt to the threats of climate change, Serco’s engineers and environmental experts are on the frontline with FEMA determining approaches to mitigate the impact of future events and harden critical infrastructures such as flood systems, levees, and drainage systems. Our support for FEMA is one example of how Serco's people are addressing one of the most profound challenges of our times.