Over the past three decades, WSP USA has provided multiple services to federal, state and local emergency agencies, including housing inspections, emergency logistics and supply procurement, administrative support and hazard mitigation planning, design and program management.
In 2020, the typical playbook and the experience that has influenced those best practices for disaster response has been flipped on its head.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. hard in early March, WSP has been working with many of its clients to re-evaluate disaster plans, locate emergency funding sources, pre-position contracts and assets, and line up vendors so that critical supplies and services that have become increasingly difficult to find due to the health crisis are at the ready if a big storm event or other disaster occurs while the pandemic rages on.
“In previous years, when a hurricane strikes, there are agencies and organizations in other areas and states that are willing and able to step up and offer their services, provide personnel and contribute supplies to assist the impacted areas,” said Tom Lewis, president of federal programs and logistics at WSP. “This year, everyone across the board has been hit by the pandemic, and that has created a limited availability of funds – not to mention concerns about spreading of and exposure to COVID-19. We are witnessing supply chains that are already stretched to the limit and each agency will be much more on its own this year.”
Now, more than ever, fortune favors the prepared.
“Hurricanes don’t stop for pandemics,” Lewis said. “Well-organized companies, emergency management agencies, departments of transportation and many others have been planning for the unexpected and have their ‘disaster tool box’ at the ready, though now they must look and see how it can be adapted in a different way.”