On May 2, FEMA Region I and the Department of State, Office of Foreign Missions , held a roundtable with consular officers from 23 foreign countries to discuss a wide variety of topics concerning emergencies, foreign citizens, and global support to the U.S. after major disasters. Representatives from three federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston, Boston College and the American Red Cross shared critical information, including:
- Information sharing before, during and after disasters;
- Disaster assistance to foreign nationals from government agencies (federal, state and local) and non-governmental agencies;
- The International Assistance System, and foreign support to survivors of catastrophic events in the U.S.;
- Support from local emergency management to consular operations;
- How colleges and universities confront the challenges of foreign students, staff and researchers involved in disasters;
- How the Massachusetts Port Authority , also known as MASSPORT, is prepared for an aviation disaster that involves foreign nationals;
- Roles of the Red Cross and other NGOs; and
- Role of the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions.
The attendees expressed appreciation for the outreach and for the value of the information shared. The consular community committed to a number of action items resulting from the roundtable:
- The consulates will work more closely with local emergency management to ensure up-to-date contact information and assistance with possible translation needs in support of their citizens;
- The consulates will ensure the Dept. of State has the most up-to-date emergency contact information to facilitate post-disaster response;
- The consulates will work closely with MASSPORT on planning for aviation incidents at Logan International Airport and/or the Greater Boston area; and
- The consulates will collaborate with FEMA Region I to identify and develop language-appropriate preparedness materials to share with their local communities.
Don Boyce, Region I administrator, highlighted the importance of the roundtable and encouraged attendees to use it as a first step toward ongoing, comprehensive engagement with the emergency management community.
“Today, you, the members of the consular community of Greater Boston, have become an important member of the whole community approach to serving our citizens in being prepared for any disaster that might impact our area,” he said.