FEMA Speaks, REALTORS® Listen

Each year, one of the highlights of the midyear meetings for me is the Legislative and Political Forum. It’s a bit of a love-hate relationship, in that the forum kicks off at 8:00 AM, which is an early start when I’m still running on west coast time, but it is always worth it.

This year did not disappoint as William “Brock” Long, administrator of FEMA, opened the forum. Long shared an update on FEMA’s activities over the last year and also gave a compelling call to action for REALTORS® to help increase disaster preparedness.

Long’s recognizes a need for FEMA is to broaden the audience they are reaching with their message. “There’s a REALTOR® in every community,” Long said, and they can be a partner in creating a culture of preparedness.

Last year, FEMA spent over $23 billion in disaster response. The total cost of recovery in Puerto Rico alone may exceed $40 billion. One way to reduce some of those costs in the future is to better prepare families, homes, and communities for disasters. Creating this culture of preparedness is a key component of FEMA’s strategic plan.

Because of the close interaction we as REALTORS® have with our clients, we have an ideal opportunity to educate them on how to be ready for a disaster, whatever that may be. Whether it’s a major natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey or the more run-of-the-mill disaster like a broken water pipe, knowing basic steps like how to turn off the gas or water to the house can make a huge impact on the extent of the damage.

Long concluded by asking three things of the audience:

  1. Help customers understand the risk disasters pose and how they can prepare and protect their assets
  2. Provide options for home projects that may lower cost of insurance
  3. Share the importance of Flood Insurance for all clients

As in years past, the Legislative and Political Forum did not disappoint. Great work by Chair Chelsea Locke and Vice Chair Adam Ruiz (and of course the NAR staff) organizing and hosting the event!

John Blom

John Blom is a managing broker of Hasson Company, REALTORS® in Vancouver, Washington. He was also a member of the 2017 NAR Leadership Academy and is passionate about taking the leadership skills he has gained through volunteering with his state and local REALTOR® association out into the community. In addition to serving on several non-profit boards during his eight-year real estate career, last year he ran and was elected for a seat on the Clark County Council. John has always had a passion for public policy. After earning his master’s in history from Ohio University, he spent four years as a historian/analyst for the U.S. Army’s Combat Studies Institute. When one of his fellow brokers heard about this interest, she encouraged him to join the local association government affairs committee. From that point, he was hooked. He has served on national, state, and local policy and REALTOR® Party committees. Talking about advocacy, John says, “We need to always be connecting the stories to the policy. Flood insurance isn’t just numbers on an actuarial table, it is people’s lives. We can’t get lost in the policy and forget the people it impacts.” Beyond real estate and his role with the county, John enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, rock climbing, and training for obstacle course races. He and his wife have completed two Spartan races this year and completed the “tri-fecta” in Sacramento last fall.

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