#IAMFEMA: Emily Alvarez, Community Planner

A photo of a woman in a gray cardigan and black shirt with short hair and glasses. in the background is the USA and DHS flag.
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Meet Emily! She is a Community Planner with FEMA Region 8’s Mitigation Division. Emily joined FEMA in the Fall of 2019 with a background in land-use planning.

Emily’s job is all about hazard mitigation. So, what does that mean?

Essentially, she’s helping communities work toward reducing their vulnerability to natural disasters through long-term solutions like land use planning and updating building codes.

Emily works with FEMA Region 8 states along with local and tribal communities, providing technical assistance as they develop and update their hazard mitigation plans and apply for federal funding. 

By working with land use planners, engineers, and emergency managers, Emily helps them towards their goals of building resilience to prevent damage to life, property, the economy, and the natural environment when the next disaster strikes.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the ways in which the built environment impacts the natural environment and vice versa, so my current role at FEMA is the perfect culmination of the work I had done in the past and my interests.”

Emily recalls when she recently spent time with the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. There, she got to know the Tribal staff and council, as her team worked with the Tribe on helping them update their hazard mitigation plans and develop mitigation project designs with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“It was really great getting into the community to see the areas where they need mitigation and getting to know the Tribal staff and Tribal council. A lot of times we don’t see the space that mitigation is physically happening in until it’s done, so it was very meaningful to get to be a part of the early stages.”

Emily loves the work she does with FEMA because she knows that hazard mitigation helps people understand the direct link between the built and natural environments, which is not something people necessarily think about daily.

“I love my job because I get to encourage people to think through hazard mitigation and engage with their communities to communicate risk so people, and communities overall, can be more resilient in the face of natural disasters and climate change.”

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