Although local governments may collaborate with federal and
state governments for grants, trainings, resources, information,
legal requirements, or agenda-setting, local emergency
managers still think vertical collaboration is relatively less
common than horizontal collaboration. They are sometimes
afraid of intervention from higher levels of governments. Local
governments emphasize the principle that “all disasters are local”
and want to strengthen their autonomy.
They view higher levels of governments as supporters rather
than commanders. However, they acknowledge that when
disasters happen, federal officials come afterwards and try to
take charge and override local actions.
In the horizontal context, local governments frequently
collaborate with public agencies, other local governments,
business industries, and non-profit organizations to develop
mitigation and preparedness activities as well as respond to and
recover from disasters. In Florida, the county leads and
coordinates its municipalities or local EM-related initiatives.
Municipalities within the county still own some level of
autonomy during normal times and this pattern is most obvious
in big cities. A big city serves as a big brother to take care of
other neighboring small municipalities and speaks out for them.
Nevertheless, the county
municipality relationship becomes
relatively directive during a disaster. County-county
collaboration can be conducted through writing a grant project
in normal times or activating a mutual aid system to supply
resources to each other during a disaster. Local EM directors
popularly believe that surrounding counties are akin to siblings,
facing similar risks and problems. Therefore, they should help
each other get through the emergencies.
The interview findings also identified that the private
sector (i.e., utility companies, telecommunication companies,
theme parks, grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and
hardware stores) can provide some substantive physical