Neighbor Helping Neighbor in Emergency Management

Every county in the state has provided a resource, a piece of equipment and even personnel in response to this year’s extremely active fire season. With two of the most destructive fires in state history occurring within days of each other, California called upon other states to ensure in the recovery process for the Butte and Valley fires was strong.

To reduce the drawdown of resources at all levels of government around California, other states, including Alaska, Arizona, Maine, and New Mexico, provided emergency specialists to ensure a comprehensive recovery for the fire victims.

This is all done through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a national agreement among all 50 states and U.S. territories

EMAC allows for emergency resources to be made available in a neighbor-helping-neighbor system before, during, and after a major disaster. These individuals may work out of the Joint Field Office (JFO) in Sacramento or on site of the disaster. While this benefits those affected by the disaster, it also is a learning opportunity for these individuals from out of state as California’s emergency management model is a world-leader in capacity and flexiblity.

Rebecca Lopez, an Individual Assistance Chief, is one of two specialists from Alaska who came to California to assist with recovery. Lopez assisted in the recovery process in her home state after the 2013 spring floods left a path of destruction and displaced hundreds of people.

While the challenges may be different with every disaster, the goal remains the same, to serve and support the communities affected.

“Being here helps expand my knowledge of how to wok with a larger population which has been affected by a disaster, “ Lopez said.

Being a good neighbor goes both ways. In 2013, Cal OES requested the County of Santa Barbara’s Office of Emergency Management to deploy two disaster recovery specialists to New Mexico in support of the ongoing recovery efforts following severe storms, flooding and debris slides.

Cal OES deployed three personnel to Fort Collins, Colorado in October of 2013, to assist with flooding, landslides and mudslides

Then again in 2014, specially trained personnel with emergency response and management expertise from Cal OES and the California National Guard were deployed to support Hawaii’s response to Tropical Storm Iselle and Hurricane Julio.

The most recent deployment was to the state of Washington to assist with the Oso Mudslide.Task Force 7 consisted of 18 personnel from all parts of California who where and were assigned to an Urban Search and Rescued.

You can learn more by visiting these websites:


Robb Mayberry

Robb Mayberry is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has assisted in the response and recovery efforts with some of California’s worst disasters, including the San Refugio Oil Spill, the Valley and Butte Wildfires, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Erskine Fire, and the Winters Storms of 2017. Prior to public service, he spent 25 years managing the public and media relations for some of Northern California’s largest healthcare organizations.

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