The guide contains practical advice for governors on how to organize their states to prepare for and respond to hazards of all kinds effectively. It shares information and guidance on how to approach issues such as mutual aid, information sharing, obtaining assistance from the military and protecting critical infrastructure. Last published in 2002, the guide includes a significant amount of new and updated information.
“As the chief executives of our states, governors are responsible for the safety and security of our citizens and ensuring our states are adequately prepared for emergencies and disasters of all types and sizes – from widespread power outages and hazardous materials spills to catastrophes on the scale of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina,” said Minner. “This guide focuses on areas governors must immediately be aware of, as well as the resources they are most likely to rely on during the initial response to an incident.”
The content of the guide is based on the experiences of governors who have managed during crises and draws on lessons learned by states. Among the highlights, the guide:
- Emphasizes that emergency preparedness and homeland security must be a priority of all governors;
Recommends governors set priorities and develop the structures and systems required to support those priorities; and
Stresses the need for cooperation among the state and local officials – within and among states – who will be expected to play a role in emergency response.
“This guide addresses one of the most difficult questions facing our nation's governors, ‘Are we prepared to respond to an emergency incident, whether it is man-made or a natural disaster?'” Gibbons said. “As the threats to our country become more complex, we must increase our efforts to work cooperatively across state lines and further our knowledge and understanding of those practices that have proven successful in other states. The Governor's Guide to Homeland Security will provide each governor across the nation with proactive recommendations for emergency readiness, ensuring that each state is prepared to address a number of potential emergencies.”
As part of their efforts to secure their states in the event of an attack or other emergency, such as a natural disaster, the governors sent a letter to Congressman John M. Spratt Jr., chairman, and Congressman Paul Ryan, ranking minority member, of the House Budget Committee, asking them to consider “adequate budget authority to reequip Army and Air National Guard units returning from abroad.”
Calling the National Guard units “an integral part of the war on terror and a core component of state emergency and disaster response plans,” the letter noted that National Guard equipment often is taken abroad for use in military operations and left behind for use by other units. “Unless this equipment is replaced in a timely fashion, the ability of our guard units to train for future military actions or respond to citizens' needs in an emergency is greatly diminished.”