National Response Coordination Center: It Takes A Whole Community for Response

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By Rebecca Ash, Associate Program Analyst, Individual and Community Preparedness

Cabinet members get a tour of the National Response Coordination Center after a cabinet meeting that was held by President Barack Obama, to discuss updates on responses to Hurricane Sandy at FEMA headquarters.







Emergency management takes the whole community.  If you spend a few minutes in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), you see the whole of community approach in action as staff from the federal government and the community come together to meet the needs of those in the path of Hurricane Sandy. 

The National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) is a multiagency center that coordinates the overall Federal support for major disasters and emergencies, including catastrophic incidents in support of operations at the regional-level.  The FEMA Administrator, or his or her delegate, activates the NRCC in anticipation of, or in response to, an incident by activating the NRCC staff, which includes FEMA personnel, the appropriate Emergency Support Functions, and other appropriate personnel (including nongovernmental organization and private sector representatives).  During the initial stages of a response FEMA will, as part of the whole community, focus on projected, potential, or escalating critical incident activities. The NRCC coordinates with the affected region(s) and provides needed resources and policy guidance in support of incident-level operations. The NRCC staff specifically provides emergency management coordination, planning, resource deployment, and collects and disseminates incident information as it builds and maintains situational awareness—all at the national-level. Personnel from FEMA and other federal agencies work side-by-side in FEMA's National Response Coordination Center

On Friday, October 26, 2012, days before Sandy first hit America’s East Coast, FEMA’s NRCC was activated by William ”Bill” Carwile, FEMA’s Director of Disaster Operations. What started as an enhanced watch on October 26 quickly elevated to a Level 1 activation—the highest alert—by Monday morning. Staffed 24 hours a day, in 12 hour shifts, this multi-agency team worked diligently to coordinate with and support regional, state and local, and tribal partners who have primary responsibility for coordinating local response efforts.  As response efforts began, the NRCC activated all emergency support functions (ESFs) critical to Federal response efforts for an incident of Sandy’s magnitude and uncertainty.    

As regional response operations stabilize and recovery efforts begin, the NRCC will downgrade its status and soon after deactivate and demobilize operations at the NRCC. Each section in the NRCC has specific responsibilities during demobilization which may vary depending on the level and type of support required by the Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) and the type of incident.  The decision to demobilize components or functions of the NRCC is made by senior leadership after a situational assessment has been made and they determine that following conditions exist:

  • The states or territories previously at risk are no longer under a threat;
  • A special event concludes without incident;
  • An Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) or Joint Field Office (JFO) has full capability to take command of all support operations; and
  • National or Regional personnel can provide needed support to the IMAT or JFO through day-to-day activities or without additional deployed personnel.

FEMA would like to thank all of the people who supported the NRCC during response to Hurricane Sandy. Your hard work and dedication is truly appreciated. We encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering in the NRCC to speak with their supervisor.

"Working at the NRCC has been an invaluable experience! Serving in that role has given me an opportunity to cultivate relationships with phenomenal professionals in and out of our agency, and feel connected to the assistance being provided to survivors in a very unique way. Having been supported by a patient team that taught me the ropes and supported me in every way, I'm so thankful for the camaraderie that is powerfully evident at the NRCC that has reinforced my commitment to what we do and who we serve."
– Regina ”Jeannie” Moran, Youth Director, FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division. She worked the Voluntary Agency Liaison and Donations desks under individual assistance’s operation.


Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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