Emergency Management

FEMA: Let’s Try Civil Defense

On March 7, 2018 (a year ago), I wrote a letter to then FEMA Administrator Brock Long on how we could build a culture of preparedness in America though civil defense.

FEMA Critical Infrastructure Protection
Tomorrow may not be a “blue sky day.”

I never received any response.

Fast forward to March 1, 2019 and Emergency Management Magazine published an article entitled: Report: We’ve Failed Miserably at Preparedness.

The report is FEMA’s January 2019 “Building Cultures of preparedness: Report for the Emergency Management Higher Education Community.” FEMA’s new report states that recent efforts have improved the first responder preparedness and government capabilities, but:

Attempts to enhance levels of preparedness among individual households, communities, and various organizations which lie outside the emergency management profession’s immediate sphere of control have shown little to no sign of improvement

Page 6


Preparedness experts state that what is needed is a bottom-up approach, and that past efforts to apply one-size-fits-all solutions have ended in failure

Page 8

The new report says that what is needed is a bottom-up approach and that “one-size-fits-all solutions” haven’t worked. A year earlier, my letter noted that we have to build the culture of preparedness “from the bottom-up, based on the community’s needs.”

Maybe it’s time FEMA listened to “the bottom.” [Click HERE to hear from “the bottom.”]

Some of the initial comments I have heard from local EMs have been related to resources. “God knows I have been waiting 25 years for funding support.” Bad news and good news.

  • Bad news: we can’t wait for “more resources” because they are never going to come. We need to act now, and with a sense of urgency. Tomorrow may not be a “blue sky day!”
  • Good news: we have the resources we need right in our communities- we just need to find the leadership to tap into these resources. [CLICK HERE for a more detailed discussion on our resources.]

So, below is my letter from a year ago. Below that are some related articles on civil defense I have written.

FEMA: let’s try civil defense!

[Click Here to read the PDF version of my Letter to FEMA]

March 7, 2018

William B. “Brock” Long, Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20472

1. Building a culture of preparedness in the United States 
2. Bringing back “civil defense” and local pre-disaster mitigation

Dear Mr. Long,

Both of these goals are interrelated, and achievable. The purpose of this letter is to offer you a way forward to achieve them. I am a national expert on preparedness and for years have been advocating a return to local civil defense. It has been refreshing to hear you speak to Congress and the media about civil defense, local pre-disaster mitigation and the need to build a culture of preparedness in the United States.

First, here are the two things that we are doing that haven’t worked.

1. Nobody has ever heard of Citizen Corps.

Try this: Ask the next 10 citizens you meet on the street “do you know what Citizen Corps is?” They don’t know. The few who might attempt to answer will confuse Citizen Corps with the Peace Corps.

Our attempt since 9/11/2001 to engage citizens on community preparedness has been a dismal failure. The failure is partly due to the fact that this has been a top-down approach – from FEMA to the citizens, John and Jane Smith. Yet, the Smiths have never heard of Citizen Corps and after 16 ½ years, we have not been able to reach them with our message. The Smiths in 2018 are still complacent and unprepared.

The only reason that I know about Citizen Corps is because I ran into it when I was researching community preparedness for the book I was writing. To the extent that anybody thinks that Citizen Corps is making our communities more prepared, it is not. A bureaucracy like Citizen Corps is not what we need to reach people.[1] (If people don’t know what it is and can’t understand it, it is not going to work.) If we want to reach people, we need to change our paradigm to a bottom-up, grassroots approach to preparedness.

2. The flaw of the emergency management system.

Our emergency management system has actually contributed to our lack of a culture of preparedness – not through lack of effort or dedication, but through a basic design flaw. We are not ready for a “worst case scenario” because we always rely on outside resources. In other words, somebody is going to rescue us. In this context, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria were actually “best-case scenarios” because in both cases, they were “regional” events where massive outside resources were available.[2]

Because of emergency management’s design – specifically, the ability to expand (or “scale up”) when the scope of the disaster overwhelms local resources, emergency managers are wired to rely on the availability of outside resources for anything bigger than usual. This is literally a tenet of their thinking. (No matter how bad it is, resources will always be available from “above” our level and we can always “scale up”.)

There are 35,000 towns and cities in the United States. If a cyber-attack or a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) took down the electric grid nationwide, right now we would have 35,000 towns and cities looking to their states and FEMA for resources. They would not be looking internally at their own civil defense plan because they don’t have one. This is what we need to fix.

The stakes are dangerously high. On March 28, 2017 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs reported this about the critical infrastructure:

“The United States depends on its critical infrastructure, particularly the electric power grid, as all critical infrastructure sectors are to some degree dependent on electricity to operate. A successful nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the United States could cause the death of approximately 90 percent of the American population. Similarly, a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) could have equally devastating effects on the power grid.”[3]

Something needs to get the attention of the 35,000 cities and towns so that they see the need to be prepared to be on their own for an extended period of time – and not, as is the case now, always put their hope on the cavalry’s arrival.

What Does Work?

Let’s back up and look at what does work. Every community in the U.S. has a fire department and has emergency medical services. In most communities, these are volunteer organizations.[4]Communities are not “required” by the federal government to have these services – the communities feel that they need these services, so over the years they made sure that, in some way, they had them. Some of these are set up as non-profit organizations. Some are set up as governmental organizations. There is no one size fits all; rather, each community has developed a system and resources that worked for them. They may have been able to get grants to assist them with buying equipment, or for training, but ultimately, the people in the community did the work to develop the system. Nobody in DC set it up for them.

A local civil defense organization needs to be developed the same way – from the bottom-up, based on the community’s needs. It can be a non-profit or a governmental organization. But the community needs to see that they need it and have some support in organizing and setting it up. This should be FEMA’s role – providing the leadership, and then the support for the locally executed efforts.

In most places, the cost to get a lawyer or accountant to draft and file the papers to start a non-profit organization is under $1000. This is an incredible pre-disaster mitigation investment with a potential for massive return. If we can help communities to do this, it would likely be the best possible use of pre-disaster mitigation funds.

As you testified to Congress on November 30, 2017 “it is important to point out that an optimal response and recovery process should be federally supported, state managed and locally executed.”[5] I would also point out, that this should apply to pre-disaster mitigation – e.g., civil defense – as well.

So how do we get the communities to want to set up a local civil defense organization?

Getting our communities to see the need for civil defense.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017[6] requires that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security:

(1) include in national planning frameworks the threat of an EMP or GMD event; and[7]

(2) conduct outreach to educate owners and operators of critical infrastructure, emergency planners, and emergency response providers at all levels of government regarding threats of EMP and GMD.[8] [Emphasis added.]

This new law gives us the authority and obligation to educate our local communities about the need for civil defense. FEMA should develop a community-level EMP/GMD local tabletop exercise (TTX). The purpose of this exercise is for the local government to see what would happen if their community was on its own for months or longer after a catastrophic failure of the national electric grid. No outside resources will be available to the town – what they have is what they have. This will prove very eye-opening for the majority of communities.

This exercise is purposely designed to “fail” (because through failure, comes learning). It is designed to teach the local government, emergency managers, and citizens what would happen as time went on during a long-term outage. In order for communities to plan meaningful pre-disaster mitigation, they have to see the “reality” in the TTX of the horrible loss of life their community would encounter if they were unprepared. By thinking about the long term effects of a loss of the critical infrastructures during the TTX, the community will “experience” starvation, disease, collapse of their local medical system (if their community even had one), inability to protect citizens from crime and, ultimately, good people doing bad things as we saw in Katrina, Andrew and the 1977 New York blackout.

After going through this exercise, it will be very clear to each community what would happen. The question then becomes, what can we do to mitigate ahead of time? Building a civil defense organization is the answer. It is a resource multiplier for the community. It is the only logical conclusion.

And in preparing for a “worst case” disaster, the community is preparing to be more self-reliant in any scale disaster. There is no downside to preparing for the worst.

Meanwhile, FEMA should develop a similar “worst-case” EMP/GMD TTX for the state and federal level which will reveal the problems the higher levels will face. For example, there are 99 nuclear reactors in 30 U.S. states – and they all have only a limited quantity of back up fuel for their generators. What is the plan to cool the spent fuel rods after 3 months and 6 months?[9] Another example, federal and state employees will stop showing up to work if they feel their families are endangered, so the resources we think we have may not be there.

The 6 U.S.C. § 321P (national planning and education) TTX is necessary if we are to have stronger and more resilient communities – as well as collectively become more resilient as a country. Presently few, if any, would argue that the United States is prepared for a long term EMP or GMD grid outage. The vast majority of our communities and local governments have never even thought about it.

I believe that your vision of having a preparedness culture in the United States is achievable. It is not only achievable, but it is necessary for the safety of our communities and the national security of our country.

The only thing stopping most communities, local governments and local emergency managers from starting or supporting local civil defense organizations is that they don’t know that they should. Everybody is waiting for FEMA to tell us what we should do.


We can vastly improve local level pre-disaster mitigation and lead the nation towards a true culture of preparedness by doing the following:

  1. FEMA needs to tell us that starting a local civil defense program (either non-profit[10] or government sponsored organization) is a good idea. Even better, tell us that it is what we should do. Communities are literally waiting for this guidance.
  2. I have attached a proposed bi-partisan Congressional resolution (H. Res. 762) which contains language which is very useful. It would be of great educational value and assistance to local governments to see something like this from Congress – or at least as a statement to this effect from FEMA. Although this resolution never made it out of committee, a good idea does not need to pass Congress to be a good idea. Encouraging communities to develop their own “civil defense” program is just a good idea.
  3. FEMA should create a local EMP/GMD TTX scenario with the goal of teaching communities what could happen in a worst case national scale emergency in accordance with 6 U.S.C. § 321P(1) and (2).
  4. FEMA should create a state and national level EMP/GMD TTX scenario with the goal of informing higher levels of government what could happen in a worst case national scale emergency in accordance with 6 U.S.C. § 321P(1) and (2).
  5. As you mentioned in your November 30, 2017 testimony to Congress, we need to partner with the Department of Education to start the preparedness culture with our children. This needs to be implemented at a local level – civil defense subjects for students should be taught, including survival skills, first aid, etc.
  6. Citizen Corps should be replaced by a simple structure to support building local civil defense organizations. (As streamlined and unbureaucratic as possible.) This support structure should help communities start an organization, apply for grants and support their efforts.

The Secure the Grid Coalition[11] and InfraGard[12] are two groups FEMA could partner with. They have many experts and large quantities of research materials available on EMP, GMD as well as other electric grid threats and security.  These groups may be of assistance in developing the 6 U.S.C. § 321P TTXs.

I would be happy to meet with you to further discuss how we can build a true culture of preparedness in the U.S.

Michael Mabee

[1] In fact the, the program is so unloved, even by FEMA, that today while going to the Citizen Corps website, I received the error message that www.citizencorps.fema.gov’s “security certificate expired 216 days ago.” When I proceeded on the website anyway (“not recommended”), there is a message that “a new website is coming soon.”

[2] “Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria were both “best case scenarios.” October 21, 2017. https://michaelmabee.info/best-case-scenarios/ (accessed March 7, 2018).

[3] Senate Report 115-12. Activities of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. (115th Congress) March 28, 2017. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-115srpt12/pdf/CRPT-115srpt12.pdf (accessed March 6, 2018). Page 6.

[4] According to FEMA’s website, 70.8% of the fire departments in the U.S. are volunteer organizations. See: https://apps.usfa.fema.gov/registry/summary/ (accessed march 5, 2018). According to USA.gov, one-third of the States indicated that the majority of EMS agencies that respond to 911 emergencies with transport capability are considered to be volunteer agencies. See: https://www.ems.gov/pdf/National_EMS_Assessment_Demographics_2011.pdf (accessed March 5, 2018).

[5] “FEMA Administrator Brock Long: Time to hit the reset button on resiliency.” December 9, 2017. https://michaelmabee.info/fema-administrator-brock-long-resilient/ (accessed March 7, 2018).

[6] Public Law 114-328, enacted December 23, 2016. Note: Section 1913. EMP and GMD Planning, Research and Development, and Protection and Preparedness. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-114publ328/pdf/PLAW-114publ328.pdf  (accessed March 7, 2018).

[7] 6 U.S.C. § 321P (1). Note: the terms “EMP” and “GMD” are defined in 6 U.S.C. § 101.

[8] 6 U.S.C. § 321P (2).

[9] Power Mag: “NRC Grants Citizen Petition to Examine Solar Storms.”http://www.powermag.com/nrc-grants-citizen-petition-to-examine-solar-storms/ (accessed March 7, 2018)

[10] USA.gov: “Starting a Nonprofit Organization” https://www.usa.gov/start-nonprofit (accessed March 5, 2018).

[11] Secure the Grid Coalition. https://securethegrid.com/ (accessed March 5, 2018)

[12] InfraGard. https://www.infragard.org/ (accessed March 5, 2018).

Click Here for House Res 762 – attachment to original letter

Read Related Posts on Civil Defense

Long-Term Power Outage: There Is No Plan

The federal government has no plan for a long-term power outage

Long-Term Power OutageAs disturbing as it might be, despite the numerous threats to the U.S. electric grid, the federal government has no plan for a long-term power outage. FEMA recently admitted this at the National Preparedness Symposium on May 24, 2018:

“Current planning does not include any contingencies for very long term or extremely wide spread power outages.” -FEMA

We should be well on our way to having something by now. Signed into law on December 23, 2016, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA) added 6 U.S.C. § 321p to the United States Code, titled: “National planning and education.” This provision states:

The Secretary shall, to the extent practicable—
(1) include in national planning frameworks the threat of an EMP or GMD event; and
(2) conduct outreach to educate owners and operators of critical infrastructure, emergency planners, and emergency response providers at all levels of government regarding threats of EMP and GMD

On March 29, 2018 I attended FEMA’s Prolonged Power Outage Workshop in Boston along with several members of the Secure The Grid Coalition. While it was a well run, instructive exercise (and I offer my kudos to the FEMA staff), the three module TTX ended with this scenario in the third module (after “2+ weeks”):

The source of the cyber interruption has been neutralized and power is returning sporadically. It is anticipated that full power will be restored shortly.

So, FEMA’s idea of a “prolonged power outage” is 2+ weeks. Here are the exercise materials:

This coming January, FEMA is holding a “Virtual Table Top Exercise (VTTX) – Long Term Power Outage.” I plan on participating, but  I see that the scenario is based on a winter storm and it appears from the “Situation Manual” that module 3 of the 3 module exercise is seven days post storm. Not exactly what I would call a “long-term power outage.” I still plan on doing the VTTX and I’m sure it will be of value. (To FEMA’s defense, they recently published the “Power Outage Incident Annex to the Response and Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plans” however, this document is a high level federal government document which is of little or no help to a local community facing a power outage.)

I have previously discussed that GridEx – the industry’s  biennial exercise run by North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) – is a paper tiger. So we have an inadequate NERC “grid down” exercise every two years and FEMA running “prolonged power outage” exercises that cover a week or two.

In terms of preparing for a long-term power outage, obviously, we’re not there yet.

We need a long-term power outage exercise that covers a long-term power outage

That heading seemed pretty silly when I was typing it. But that is exactly what we need from FEMA – a long-term power outage TTX where the scenario is national in scale and months in duration – such as an EMP or GMD outage could be. No outside resources. Something like this.

Scenario: A massive solar flare (coronal mass ejection) has taken down the majority of the electric grid in the United States. Many of the extra-high-voltage (EHV) transformers have been damaged and it may be months – or longer – before power is restored. All you have is whatever resources your town or jurisdiction currently has on hand (disasters are, after all, “come as you are”). If you want to spice it up, assume this is in the worst season for your area, e.g., winter in New England or summer in Texas. Because this is a national scale disaster, you can’t count on any aid from the outside for the foreseeable future – perhaps months. The cavalry is not coming.

Exercise Objectives: (Oh, I forgot to mention, you’re going to “fail” this TTX and half the population or more of your town will die – but that’s okay. This is only a drill. The purpose of a drill is to harvest the lessons learned and make a list of what we need to do ahead of time so this loss of life never happens. The vast majority of towns, states and even the federal government have never drilled this scenario.)

The objectives are:

  1. Determine what resources and capabilities you have
  2. Determine the obvious problems your town/jurisdiction will face
  3. Think about things that could be done prior to an event to prepare and mitigate

The first objective is fairly simple. You probably already have a good idea of what your town’s resources are. But, your existing resources and capabilities may be less than you think. Will all your resources show up to work if their families are in jeopardy from a national catastrophe? Also, even if most of them do, remember that all you have is what you have in town now. fuel, medical supplies, number of cops and firemen. Nothing else is available.

For the second objective, I’m not even going to throw in any injects. The facts are bad enough. When the grid goes down for a long period of time, we can briefly broad-brush the challenges to a town as follows:

  • Long-term interruption of power
    • People will be without heat/AC.
    • People will be without refrigeration.
    • People will be without the ability to perform basic things like cooking or boiling water.
    • People will be without basic sanitation and, hence, at risk for diseases.
    • People may be without transportation immediately (EMP damage) or soon (lack of fuel).
    • Most, if not all, forms of communication will be disrupted.
    • Critical backup generators will soon run out of fuel.
  • Long-term interruption of supply chain
    • Food will stop.
    • Fuel will stop.
    • Medicine and medical supplies to pharmacies will stop.
    • All products, parts and supplies will stop.
  • Long-term interruption of essential services
    • Water service will stop.
    • Sewer service will stop.
    • Fire, EMS, and police will be unable to respond (for lack of fuel, personnel and communications).
    • Medical services will be severely disrupted or unavailable.
  • Collapse of law and order (temporary or permanent)
    • The police will not have the manpower, communications, or transportation to provide security for the community.
    • Desperate people will resort to looting, burglary, robbery, or any means necessary to get food and water.
    • It is unlikely that federal help is “on the way” anytime soon
    • Many local governments will quickly become ineffective.
  • Starving refugees arriving from urban areas
    • Even if, miraculously, you live in a community that is prepared and has a plan to attack the above challenges, look to your nearest urban areas—refugees will soon be forced to flee the cities. Any plan for a town’s survival will have to address how to humanely handle desperate refugees while protecting the town and maintaining law and order.
    • Town borders will have to be monitored and protected.
    • Town assets will have to be guarded from looters/criminals.

When you really think about the implications of each of the items above – and begin to put this operating picture together, it is grim. And, local emergency management will be holding the bag. Nobody higher is coming in to become the incident commander. The National Guard can’t come to every town (and they have their own problems – guardsman are going to have a tough choice when asked to report to duty when their families are in danger.)

Let’s take one of the above problems as an example: Desperate people will resort to looting, burglary, robbery, or any means necessary to get food and water.

So, you have a grocery store and a pharmacy in town. Those are going to quickly become targets. How many meals does the average family in your town (and neighboring towns) have in the cupboard? With the supply chain gone and no food coming in, what do you think will happen one week from now when people are out of food? This means you are X number of meals away from anarchy. Can your town government and law enforcement resources handle this?

Is Emergency Management Ready for a Long-Term Blackout?Let’s look at another: Water service will stop.

Most people get water either from “city water” service or a well. Both require electricity. The vast majority of your town will be without their primary water supply. People are going to be at risk for waterborne diseases – if they are lucky enough to even have questionable water to drink.

As you go through and think about the implications of each of the above (and perhaps a few more that you may think of – the above list is not comprehensive) one thing becomes clear. Our emergency management system’s dependence on outside resources when the size of the disaster overwhelms the local capabilities has failed us here. We need to be able to depend on ourselves in this worst-case national catastrophe scenario.

It is also clear that for any town or jurisdiction to adequately prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from a long term electric grid outage, we need to do a lot of work beforehand. This brings us to the third objective: what could be done prior to an event to prepare and mitigate?

The answer is a lot.

The answer is not “that could never happen” (because it could) or, “if that happened, there is just no way to be prepared for it” (because that is just patently false). Several members of Congress have been concerned about this vulnerability of the electric grid for years and there are reams of Congressional testimony and federal reports that conclude that this can happen. Moreover, several members of congress advocated in 2012 that communities start a civil defense program and be prepared to fend for themselves in the absence of federal assistance for a prolonged period of time.

Every “challenge” listed above that your town faces, has a solution. But the trick is that the challenges must be addressed ahead of time. Once the lights go out, it is too late to plan. At that point, all you can do is react.

Some initial suggested steps.

  1. Every town and jurisdiction should do a table top exercise with a national-scale long-term power outage scenario (months).
  2. Nobody has a budget for this – you will need community involvement. Starting a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or involving your CERT Team if you have one, is a great way to start getting the community involved.
  3. Consider starting a non-profit civil defense organization that has this specific mission:

(a) To educate and promote individual, family, and town preparedness for disasters;

(b) To provide disaster assistance and relief to town residents in the event of a disaster; and

(c) To educate and provide planning and resource options to the town for preparation and response to a “worst-case,” long-term catastrophe affecting the town.

Some members of Congress attempted to pass a resolution advocating that communities and their citizens do this. While House Resolution 762 (112th Congress) may have died in committee along with other legislation to protect the electric grid, a good idea does not need to pass congress to be a good idea.

Are we ready for a national scale long-term power outage? Not by a long shot – and it will be too late to figure it out once the lights go off. We need to start talking about and “TTXing” this now.

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

If you missed it, here are some pictures (click for larger pic)…

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Frank Gaffney opens the summit

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Tommy Waller explains the threats to the grid

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

(From left) Frank Gaffney, Meredith Angwin and Thomas Popik talk energy security.

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

(From left) Justin Kates, Arlene Magoon, Dale Rowley and Todd Therrien discuss building a culture of preparedness.

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Dr. Amir Toosi leading the EM expert panel

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

David Fortino discusses recent FEMA prolonged power outage TTXs


(Videos of the New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit coming soon!)


Why You Should Attend The New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

In 2018, our society is moments away from adversity while generations removed from self-reliance. We are completely dependent on the electric grid for all things that make life possible. Today, there are numerous threats to the electric grid both from humans and nature. What would happen if there was a long-term power outage in the United States and how can we prepare for it?

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

You are invited to attend the

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit
 Saturday 11/10/2018
 New England College in Henniker, NH


This conference will be of interest to Emergency Managers, first responders, CERT team members, college students in Emergency Management or Homeland Security programs. Town, county and state leaders, legislators and policy makers would benefit also greatly benefit from this conference.


Registration is available through Eventbrite and includes lunch.  Click HERE to register.

  • Registration is $30 
  • A discount for Police / Fire / EMS / FEMA / DHS / CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members ($15 per ticket) is available until 11/9/2018
  • A student discount ($10 per ticket) is available until 11/9/2018
  • Students at New England College can register for free with valid student ID

Any proceeds after conference expenses will support non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations active in protecting the power grid.


The morning session will provide unclassified briefings from nationally recognized experts on threats to the critical infrastructures.  The afternoon session will focus on community preparedness including an expert panel facilitated by Dr. Amir Toosi, Dean of Business Administration at Rivier University.

Among the confirmed speakers are Frank Gaffney (Center for Security Policy), Thomas Popik (Foundation For Resilient Societies), Tommy Waller (Secure The Grid Coalition), Dr. William R. Forstchen (author of  “One Second After“), Meredith Angwin (author of “Campaigning for Clean Air: Strategies for Pro-Nuclear Advocacy”), April M. Salas (Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth), Michael Mabee (author of “The Civil Defense Book”), Emergency Managers Justin Kates (Nashua, NH) and Dale Rowley (Waldo County, ME), Arlene Magoon (FEMA),  David Fortino (FEMA), Professor Todd Therrien (Rivier University) and others.

Attendees will leave with action items to build a culture of preparedness in their communities.


New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit
November 10, 2018
New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire

Frank J. Gaffney

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Frank Gaffney is the Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., a not-for-profit, non-partisan educational corporation established in 1988. Under Mr. Gaffney’s leadership, the Center has been nationally and internationally recognized as a resource for timely, informed and penetrating analyses of foreign and defense policy matters.

In April 1987, Mr. Gaffney was nominated by President Reagan to become the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, the senior position in the Defense Department with responsibility for policies involving U.S.-USSR relations, nuclear forces, arms control, missile defense policy and U.S.-European defense ties. He acted in that capacity for seven months during which time, he was the Chairman of the prestigious High Level Group, NATO’s senior politico-military committee. He also represented the Secretary of Defense in key U.S.-Soviet negotiations and ministerial meetings.

From August 1983 until November 1987, Mr. Gaffney was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy under Assistant Secretary Richard Perle.

From February 1981 to August 1983, Mr. Gaffney was a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by the late Senator John Tower (R-Texas). And, in the latter 1970’s, Mr. Gaffney served as an aide to the late Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (D-Washington) in the areas of defense and foreign policy.

Mr. Gaffney holds a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Tommy Waller

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Tommy Waller is Director for Special Projects at the Center for Security Policy.

As Director for Special Projects, Tommy performs a wide range of duties for the Center for Security Policy. These duties include educating policymakers at the state and federal level in all branches of government and working daily with renowned national security experts to help provide those policymakers an unconstrained analysis of the current threat environment along with workable policy solutions to address these threats.

One of the most urgent areas of concern for the Center is the vulnerability of the U.S. Electric Grid. Because the effects of a pro-longed power outage could be catastrophic to our nation, The Center sponsors the Secure the Grid Coalition – a group of the country’s top-level experts on threats to the grid and how these threats must be mitigated. The Secure the Grid Coalition is co-chaired by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Clinton’s Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey. Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, has directed Tommy Waller to manage the day to day operations of the Secure the Grid Coalition.

Thomas Popik

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Thomas S. Popik is the Chairman, President, and co-founder of the Foundation for Resilient Societies, a New Hampshire think tank that advocates for protection of critical infrastructures from infrequently occurring natural and man-made disasters.

Mr. Popik holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. In his early career, Mr. Popik served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, with a final rank of Captain. Mr. Popik is a co-founder of the Academy for Science and Design, New Hampshire’s charter high school for science and math education.

Dr. William R. Forstchen

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

William R. Forstchen has a Ph.D. from Purdue University with specializations in Military History and the History of Technology. He is a Faculty Fellow and Professor of History at Montreat College. He is the author of fifty books including the New York Times bestselling series One Second After, the Lost Regiment series, and the award-winning young adult novel, We Look Like Men of War. He has also authored numerous short stories and articles about military history and military technology.

Dr. Forstchen’s interests include the Civil War, archaeological research on sites in Mongolia, and the potential of space exploration. As a pilot he owns and flies an original World War II “recon bird.” Dr. Forstchen resides near Asheville, North Carolina with his dog Maggie.

Meredith Angwin

New England Long-term Power Outage Summit

Author and Nuclear Advocate Meredith Angwin is devoted to supporting clean, safe, affordable nuclear energy. She also works to protect the interests of electricity consumers (that is, all of us), by serving as one of two Vermont representatives to the steering committee of the Consumer Liaison Group of ISO-NE, the New England grid operator.

Meredith holds an M.S. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago. In her long research career, she was inventor on several patents in pollution control for fossil fuels, and did extensive work in corrosion control for nuclear plants. Meredith was one of the first women to be a project manager at EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), beginning with the renewables group, and moving eventually to the nuclear group. Later, she founded a small consulting company that consulted on pollution control and water chemistry for fossil, nuclear and renewable power plants, and natural gas pipelines. The company’s clients included local and international utilities.

April Salas

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

April M. Salas is the Executive Director, Revers Center for Energy, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Mrs. Salas has over 15 years of public and private sector experience in global and domestic energy project- and international-development. Starting her career in energy finance, she worked as a consultant in mid-/downstream oil and gas projects in Africa, as well as, an energy markets analyst covering Europe and Latin America.  Mrs. Salas has held various senior positions within the US Department of Energy in power delivery, energy reliability and systems analysis, and just prior to joining Tuck, Mrs. Salas directed the White House’s Quadrennial Energy Review Task Force Secretariat, in conjunction with the Secretary of Energy, and the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy. Domestically, Mrs. Salas served as Director of the State Energy Assurance Program, as well as, Chief of Planning and Analysis for all federal energy emergency response with FEMA. Globally, Mrs. Salas established and led a global energy security advisory program, energy security and systems analysis for DOE’s country-to-country engagements, as well as, US government support to international energy emergency response. Mrs. Salas represented US government energy security interests at NATO, led engagements in Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, and within the EU.

Mrs. Salas earned her MBA from Cornell University; two Masters degrees, in International Security and Economics, with a focus on energy poverty and development, and her BA from the College of William and Mary. Mrs. Salas speaks French, Spanish and Arabic, and has worked in and/or visited over 64 countries.

Michael Mabee

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Michael Mabee has worked as an urban emergency medical technician and paramedic, a suburban police officer, and in the federal civil service. Michael received his B.A. in English from Southern Connecticut State University in 1994 and is a graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Michael has a great deal of experience – both overseas and in the U.S. – working in worlds where things went wrong.  He is a veteran of both Persian Gulf wars, serving with the U.S. Army as a Platoon Sergeant in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Provide Comfort. In his most recent deployment, Michael served as a brigade level Command Sergeant Major in Iraq. He also participated in two humanitarian missions to Guatemala. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in 2006 at the rank of Command Sergeant Major (CSM). Michael was decorated by both the U.S. Army and the federal government for his actions on 9/11/2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City. (In sum, quite like Forrest Gump, he is generally at the right place at the wrong time.)

Michael has studied and written extensively on the vulnerabilities of the U.S. electric grid to a variety of threats. He has participated in federal rulemaking related to grid security and has written two books about how communities can prepare for and survive a long-term power outage.  He continues to write and speak about emergency preparedness for a long-term blackout.

David Fortino

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

David Fortino has more than 15 years of experience in emergency management, specializing in emergency response operations, preparedness, recovery, crisis management and business continuity.

Currently, Mr. Fortino is the Regional Continuity Manager for FEMA Region II. In this position, Mr. Fortino provides expert continuity and crisis management guidance and advice to all Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local governments on appropriate training programs to include coordination, oversight, management, and leadership for plans and programs, and test, training, and exercises (TT&E), including lead trainer for continuity related train-the-trainer courses, multi-year strategies, and overall program implementation.

Previously, Mr. Fortino spent 9 years at the Madison Ambulance Association and North Branford Fire Department.  At Madison Ambulance Association, Mr. Fortino was the Chief of Service. Furthermore, he is a certified as an EMT, Firefighter II, Fire Instructor, and Hazmat Operations. Mr. Fortino has his B.A. from the University of Connecticut in Urban and Regional Studies.

Dr. Amir Toosi

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Dr. Amir Toosi is currently the Dean of Business Division that oversees the business, homeland and international security, cybersecurity management program at Rivier University. Dr. Toosi’s work experience has included the corporate and higher education fields, where he has served leadership roles and taught in the traditional classroom, hybrid model, and fully online format.

In the corporate industry, Dr. Toosi has served as an international and domestic telecommunication consultant in logistics, assembly, and project management; independent consultant in strategic management, operation management, statistical research, and entrepreneurship; and property management at a real estate investment firm. He has been in more than thirty-five states within the United States and has traveled to more than twenty countries in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Dr. Toosi is a member of Academy of Management, The Association of Continuing Higher Education, and served as the Chair and Past Chair for the Scholarly-Practitioner Publication Committee for Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. He currently serves as the Chairperson on the Board of Directors for the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors for United Way of Greater Nashua, Symphony NH. Furthermore, he is currently serving as an Ambassador for the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce. Finally, in addition to chairing the Rivier University’s Business Advisory Council and Security Studies Advisory Council, Dr. Toosi serves on the Nursing Advisory Council and Public Health Advisory Council.

Justin Kates

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Justin Kates joined the City of Nashua Mayor’s Cabinet in August 2011 after coming from his role as a Homeland Security Consultant for the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.  In his role, Justin coordinates city-wide emergency response efforts by working with Federal, State, and other areas of municipal government in obtaining the necessary resources to recover after a disaster.  He developed the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan for the City and chairs the Local Emergency Planning Committee.  During his time in Nashua, Justin was responsible for coordinating the response and recovery of FEMA declared disasters Tropical Storm Irene, the “Snowtober” Nor’easter, Superstorm Sandy, Winter Storm Nemo, and Winter Storm Juno.

He is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) affiliated with the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and was awarded “NH Emergency Management Director of the year” in 2015.  Justin is a graduate of the University of Delaware where he majored in Emergency Management and Public Administration.  In his spare time he has taught Crisis Management as an Adjunct Professor at Daniel Webster College, Public Health Emergency Preparedness as an Adjunct Instructor at Rivier University, and numerous FEMA state-delivered courses for the New Hampshire Fire Academy.  He is currently the Vice President of the IAEM Region 1 Board of Directors and the Chair of the NH Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NH VOAD).

Dale Rowley

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Dale Rowley has served as the Director of the Waldo County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) in Belfast, Maine for the past 13 years. Before becoming the Director, he served as a volunteer with the County EMA office and as a municipal Emergency Manager for 9 years.

Dale served in the U.S. Air Force and Maine Air National Guard as a Civil Engineering Officer and Emergency Manager, retiring in 2011 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, after 22 years.

He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Maine and has a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He is also a 14-year Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), an 18-year member of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), and has a Master’s Degree in Emergency & Disaster Management.

Professor Todd Therrien

New Eng;land Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Professor Todd Therrien spent over 20 years as a certified Police Officer with the Nashua Police Department, where he spent time with various units, including Physical Training Instructor and K-9 Training assistant and was assigned to various detective divisions for close to 10 years.

He then switched careers to become an educator, teaching U.S. history, economics, civics, law, world history and psychology at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua and teaching at Nashua Community College in the Criminal Justice curriculum. Prof. Therrien teaches Homeland & International Security courses for the Division of Business, Rivier University.

Prof. Therrien earned his A.A. in Criminal Justice from Middlesex Community College, his B.A. in American Studies from Franklin Pierce University, and his M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Franklin Pierce University. He is currently enrolled in Rivier’s Principal Certification Program.

Arlene Magoon

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

Arlene Magoon began working for FEMA in 2008 where she has been deployed to many disaster locations here in NE and around the country. In each deployment a service delivery plan for long term recovery was developed to identify the unique needs of the communities she served. She has developed many contacts within the States and National VOAD organizations whom she considers partners and friends.

Recognizing that may communities would be best served if they were prepared for disasters, in 2016 Ms. Magoon joined the National Preparedness Division to share preparedness messages and activities in vulnerable communities across New England. Although she still holds the Voluntary Agency Liaison emergency role and is still deployed under that role, she remains aware of the need to create resilient communities through preparedness.

Ms. Magoon previously worked for the American Red Cross in New Hampshire as a Health & Safety Operations Manager in 2001. Her first day began on September 11. In the fast moving days after that tragic day, Ms. Magoon quickly learned that without preplanning for donations and volunteers before a crisis another emergency known as the “disaster within a disaster” can occur. Having successfully coordinated donations and volunteers in that event, Ms. Magoon was later hired by NH State emergency management as the coordinator for volunteers in all hazards emergency events. Two months after beginning the work to re-establish NH Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a major flood occurred in western NH communities.

Ms. Magoon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern New Hampshire University with a minor in Operations Management. She has received many awards including 1999 SBA, Woman Advocate of the Year, and National VOAD 2004 Innovations in Disaster Recovery and two time winner of the regional 2015 & 2016 Toast Master International Humorous Speech contest.



Karen Testerman (603) 721-9933
Michael Mabee (516) 808-0883



New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit

New England Long-Term Power Outage Summit