Students focus on emergency management skills as Hurricane Florence heads toward the East Coast


As forecasters and emergency preparedness experts keep their eyes on a hurricane heading towards the U.S. East Coast and two tropical storms developing behind it in the Atlantic Ocean, a group of 23 undergraduates are focused on learning the skills needed when responding to a disaster.

Led by Dr. Matthew Malone, assistant professor of Political Science and Homeland Security at Lander University, the emergency management course teaches students about the roles that local, state, and federal agencies play during catastrophic disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, and acts of terrorism.

Guest speaker Andréa Gewirtzman, a program coordinator for FEMA Corps, communicated with the class via Skype on Friday (Sept. 7). The discussion included an overview of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its mission to help people before, during, and after a disaster. Gewirtzman spoke about career opportunities, professional development, and fast track hiring programs available for those interested in serving as FEMA Core Reservists.

“Reservists are the main FEMA workforce during an emergency or disaster,” said Gewirtzman. “They go through 10 months of training and are deployed out to areas of disaster.”

Partnered with AmeriCorps, FEMA Corps sends reservists, where needed, which can last from weeks to months of deployment. Reservists are still working in Puerto Rico helping to recover from last year’s hurricane season when Hurricane Maria wrought catastrophic damage to the entirety of Dominican Republic.

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