Terrorism is more like a communicable disease than a tornado or earthquake. One can't really prevent a tornado or earthquake from occurring, or stop them from causing damage once they do. But, communicable diseases and terrorist potentially can be stopped in their tracks – and prevented from spreading from state-to-state – through proactive national strategies and associated funding. Maybe this explains why America has a National Homeland Security Strategy and a National Health Security Strategy, but not a National Emergency Management Strategy?

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Congress has appropriated $1,044,000,000 for 2015-2016 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) cooperative agreements – and very few of those dollars will be allocated to improve state and local Emergency Management capabilities. Why? Because most in Congress view disaster preparedness as a state and local responsibility. The thinking is that most natural and technological disasters do not cross state lines, and federal preparedness programs will not stop them from doing so. But, when it comes to human caused disasters – more commonly called terrorism or domestic terrorism – Congress is on board.

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EMAC was born in 1993 out of frustration by southeastern Governors who time and again waited helplessly for an anemic federal emergency management system to respond to their request for resources in the aftermath of hurricanes. Simmering frustration reached the boiling point in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo slammed into South Carolina, but it was the decimation of South Florida by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that blew the top off the pot.

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On March 5th, Congress passed the appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and in doing so set the funding opportunities for the Homeland Security Grant Program and Emergency Management Performance Grant Program. With the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Hospital Preparedness Program appropriations already in place, the 2015–2016 preparedness picture is in focus. We now know that continuation funding for eight authorized preparedness programs is $2,257,250,000.

So, the question now is, who gets what and when?

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The World Trade Center Bombing of 1992, Oklahoma City Bombing of 1996, the September 11th Attacks in 2001, and the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 were caused by some of the nastiest thugs know to man – terrorists. The Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, the Asian Flu Pandemic of 1957, and the Ebola Crisis of 2014 were caused by some of the nastiest bugs known to man – viruses.

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