As California responds to widespread flooding across multiple counties, the state has turned to emergency management agencies across the country for help during the recovery process. Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) responded to California’s request for assistance earlier this year by sending a member of its recovery staff to help.
WEM Public Assistance Specialist Ellen Gundrum traveled to California in January of 2023 under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which allows states to rapidly request resources and personnel from other states during disasters. Gundrum returned to Wisconsin in early March, ending a 55-day deployment – the longest ever of a WEM employee under the compact.
“Letting people go out like this gets them involved, interested, and growing,” said Gundrum, who has deployed across the country previously as a firefighter. “Bringing in outside assistance helps to introduce new skills and perspectives into a complex situation.”
Wisconsin has not had a federally declared disaster since 2020, and Gundrum is one of several WEM staff members who joined the agency after those declarations were granted and the recovery process was already well underway. She saw the deployment as an opportunity to learn more about how other states initiate recovery efforts at the onset of a disaster.
“The recovery process starts immediately after a disaster occurs,” Gundrum said. “While we are blessed not to currently be facing something like this in Wisconsin, this was an opportunity to get out and experience this side of the recovery process.” CLICK HERE FOR MORE.