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IAEM Disaster Zone Column: My Last Column

Will someone pick up where I left off?

All good things must come to an end sometime — and so, this is the last Disaster Zone column for the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). I've enjoyed producing the column, but I've got other writing projects in the wings.

IAEM Disaster Zone column, January 2024

My Last Column

It has been a privilege to share my thinking about any number of emergency management topics over the past four years. However, all things must come to an end and this will be my last Disaster Zone Column that will appear in the IAEM Bulletin.

Over my 30 plus years as an emergency manager I’ve been observer of many different types of disasters and events. Floods, winter storms, tornados, hurricanes, hazardous material spills, cybersecurity attacks, riots, traffic pileups, building collapses, terrorist attacks, school shootings, a pandemic, and then there is the impact of climate change that is driving many of the aforementioned natural disasters to record levels. Even as I write this in December 2023, the Pacific Northwest is being hammered by an atmospheric river that is bringing record breaking rainfall.

I am concerned about the future of our planet and what we are seeing in the way of disasters and extreme weather events will mean for future generations of people who will have to deal with any number of issues that we leave behind. As I look back, all I can say is that I did the best that I could to make things more disaster resilient. Many times the things we do are baby steps, but somewhere along the way we might be able to leave an impact that is lasting.

As for the next generation of emergency managers who are now moving up into leadership roles, I expect that they will take what’s been done and improve on it. There certainly will be new challenges to be faced that we didn’t necessarily envision. With new blood comes new ideas and creativity. It is going to be challenging for sure as the size, frequency, severity and duration of disasters gather in impact.

Now, I’d like to issue a challenge to someone out there reading this. Might you have something to say, experiences and expertise to share? Four years of writing a column means 48 different topics and I can tell you that the months pass by quickly and the 15th of the month means another new column is due to the editor of the Bulletin. After personally blogging since 2007, I can tell you I’ve seen many a potential blogger get all excited about the possibility, but then quickly peter out when the demands of producing content is not as fun as it might have seemed at first. I guess I’m saying—look before you leap!

No, I am not riding off into the sunset or as one famous army general said, “fading away.” My plan is to continue to produce content for the Disaster Zone Blog and Podcast, however there are some other writing projects that have been on the back burner forever—actually, not even on the stove.

I’d like to wish you all well in your endeavors. While progress may seem slow, keep taking those baby steps toward resilience and making a difference in the lives of your communities, wherever you serve.


by Eric E. Holdeman, senior fellow, Emergency Management Magazine.
His podcast is Disaster Zone.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.