After the response to a disaster comes recovery. As head of disaster recovery for HHS, Josh Barnes addresses the needs communities face after a disaster.
Over my career at HHS, I’ve assisted communities across America in recovering from more than 30 different disasters.
So I’m often asked, which was the worst disaster you worked on? I can’t answer that.
If you’re the person whose home, business or school was destroyed, it’s the worst hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, or incident ever.
You simply cannot compare disasters. Every disaster is different; every community is different.
Instead, what matters is to peel back the layers of the onion and see how a community has been affected by the disaster.
Whether that is a Hurricane Harvey or the creek that floods out one house, all are devastatingly difficult for the people affected.
I lead disaster recovery for HHS within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, or ASPR.
(Learn More. It takes someone special to enter into disaster areas and organize the recovery effort over the long haul. Josh Barnes has been involved in dozens of disasters, including the intense hurricane season of 2017, where there are still HHS recovery teams at work. No matter how or where disaster strikes, he and his teams bring the survivors medical help, supplies, and hope. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and YouTube. Posted on Jul 25, 2018.)
Recovery is the stage after the life-saving activities have concluded in the disaster response, and it can last for years.
We work with partners across the federal government and localities to deal with the health and social service needs that communities have.
When I’m not in the field, I’m meeting with our partners across the country or I’m in the Secretary’s Operations Center, the SOC, our information hub for disaster response and recovery.
The 2017 hurricane season was intense, with one massive storm after another in different parts of the country.
(Learn More. A historic hurricane season finally comes to an end after producing devastating storms that caused significant damage in parts of the United States. Lead meteorologist Jeff Berardelli explains more about the record-breaking period. Courtesy of CBS News and YouTube. Posted on Nov 30, 2017.)
Each time, HHS and other partners were on hand to bring medical help, supplies and hope.
In fact, ASPR teams are still supporting those missions today.
We still have nearly 50 people in Puerto Rico; eight in Texas; about 10 in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and while our onsite support in Florida has concluded, we continue to support the Floridians who are still working on their recovery.
(Learn More. On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has been assisting the island’s residents with their medical and public health needs. Courtesy of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and YouTube. Posted on Mar 19, 2018.)