“I have a passion for sharing information with others. One of the best ways to do that is to put your thoughts down on paper and allow others to agree, disagree, or debate.”

— Eric Holdeman

Professional Writings

Emergency management is really a fairly new profession. A formal education system is now being developed that will over time change the face of who we are as professional emergency managers. The role of professional journals and even the popular press is a critical one in keeping our existing emergency management professionals and ancillary supporting disciplines informed on best practices in emergency management. I enjoy writing about my experiences and ideas on the topics of emergency management and homeland security. I encourage you to also share what you know with others by writing for and about our profession.

Published Articles“Disaster Zone” Column in Emergency Management Magazine Governing MagazineOp-Eds

Published Articles

 


“Disaster Zone” Column

Eric now writes a column for Emergency Management Magazine called “Disaster Zone .” See below for the direct links to each article.


Governing Magazine

Eric now writes for Governing Magazine. See below for the direct links to each article.


Op-Eds

 

Western Washington not immune from wildfire risk

As the wildfire season heats up, homes and businesses are burning across the West. The threat of wildfire extends into “urban forests” that exist in the neighborhoods of Western Washington. (Seattle Times op-ed, July 18, 2017)

Do you have an earthquake relocation plan? You should

Most people don’t realize how we live on the extreme edge of “just in time” delivery of almost everything we use today to sustain life and work. One big earthquake and the weaknesses and lack of redundancy in our Central Puget Sound transportation system will be revealed. People and businesses will leave!  This op-ed appeared in the Seattle Times. (April 7, 2017)

Washington dawdles as megaquake looms

Seismic safety is a journey, not a destination. However, to get started, someone must take the first step towards doing something proactive and positive. This op-ed calls attention to all the risks, and the lack of any actions being taken. It appeared in Crosscut. (January 3, 2017)

The Port of Tacoma is an Invisible Government

Transparency requires more than just words. Governments everywhere are claiming they are transparent, but one only needs to look at their operational behaviors and how they deal with bad news to determine if they are really transparent. It is one thing to have stated values, it is quite another to follow them. While this op-ed is about one such government, others should take note of their current troubles and how they got there. This op-ed appeared in the Tacoma News Tribune. (March 25, 2016)

The real lessons from the Fizzle in the Drizzle

It was the middle of October and a windstorm of “historic proportions” was forecast to hit Washington State. Then–it didn’t blow hard, the lights did not flicker in most places, and people after taking precautions didn’t see the reward from having done so. This then is what I wrote about in an op-ed to Crosscut and the lessons they and we should learn from the event. (October 21, 2016)

The Port of Tacoma is an Invisible Government

Transparency requires more than just words. Governments everywhere are claiming they are transparent, but one only needs to look at their operational behaviors and how they deal with bad news to determine if they are really transparent. It is one thing to have stated values, it is quite another to follow them. While this op-ed is about one such government, others should take note of their current troubles and how they got there. (March 25, 2016)

Don’t Rob Funding for “Next Generation” 911 System

Dedicated funds are established for specific purposes. These funds make inviting targets to be raided by budget staff and legislators.  This has happened in the past in Washington State. With increasing budget pressures it could happen again. These funds will be needed to build out a new Next Generation 911 system. Taking these funds from their intended purpose is highway robbery.  (January 8, 2016)

What Would Kickstart the Northwest’s Earthquake Preparations?

The New Yorker Article, The Really Big One got a great deal of media attention.  But, will anything change?  Will people and organizations be moved to invest in disaster mitigation and preparedness?  It is highly unlikely that anything meaningful will be accomplished because of people’s attention span and lack of engagement on the topic of disasters.  They have to be personally impacted before being moved to action. This op-ed appeared in the Crosscut. (August 3, 2015)

Regional Compromise is not a Dirty Word

Regional action requires both large and small jurisdictions to work together. There are obstacles that get in the way of cooperation and indeed compromise.  This editorial addresses those issues. This op-ed appeared in the Puget Sound Business Journal. (July 24, 2015)

Ports must work at maritime marriage

Congratulations to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma for finally agreeing to work together to preserve the maritime economic engine of the Puget Sound and the State of Washington. Their recent announcement to align their maritime container businesses is historic and should be applauded. The two ports have worked hard to avoid any talk of this new agreement being a merger. In fact, while it is not a merger of the two ports; it is a marriage of their two container operation lines of businesses. This opinion piece was featured for subscribers in the Puget Sound Business Journal. (November 14, 2014)

Living with risk: Yes, but don’t you love the view?

The average person doesn’t necessarily think about risk on a daily basis, which makes most people novices when it comes to understanding and calculating risk. There are many factors that make people accept risks that should give them pause if they really understood the odds. This article appeared on-line on Crosscut.com. (March 31, 2014)

Boston bombings make a case for drones, waterfront cameras

Supporting the use of technology to prevent and investigate criminal and terrorist activities would make our communities safer. This article appeared on-line on SeattleTimes.com. (May 1, 2013)

Trust requires more than government telling the truth

Governments like to parade accountability and outcomes. But they have to do more than delivering on selected results and telling a bare minimum of convenient truths. This article appeared on-line on Crosscut.com. (August 1, 2012)

U.S. must remain vigilant about homeland security with fewer resources

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, the early intense interest in outfitting first-responding agencies to ensure their readiness in the event of more terrorist attacks has waned along with federal resources. Guest columnist Eric Holdeman argues that everyone needs to adjust to keep communities safe. This article appeared on-line and in print in the Seattle Times. (August 18, 2011)

Killer Buildings Here at Home Are a ‘Predictable Surprise’

The tragedy of earthquakes, first in Haiti and now Chile, continues to be played out on our television screens. While most Americans look at this situation as being that of a third-world country, the risks that we live with today include some of those that have taken their deadly toll in Haiti.  This article appeared on-line in Emergency Management Magazine. (March 1, 2010)

FEMA Still Mired in ‘Know-It-All’ Mentality

The transition to the new Obama Administration presents an opportunity for changes to be made to FEMA and their priorities and methodology.  Eric has written an opinion piece on what the new FEMA could work on, starting with improved relationships with state and local partners.  This article appeared on-line in Government Technology, and in print in the winter edition of Emergency Management Magazine. (January 27, 2009)

Fix on Failure
When will you repair or replace the roof on your home? This is a very practical question and your answer can be very indicative of our national non-obsession with maintenance. (February 2008)

Destroying FEMA
Following the federal response, and the ensuing fallout, to Hurricane Katrina, there were many calls for changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. See Eric’s Washington Post Op-Ed on FEMA and the impacts to the agency and national preparedness. (August 2005)

Homeland Security Grants
A recent edition of the “Team Washington Homeland Security Update” contains an Op-ed that I wrote about how many Homeland Security Grants are stove piped to disciplines vs. having a truly regional approach.  Take a look and tell me what you think.  I know I’m dreaming!

Emergency preparedness: Is three days enough?
In December 2006 Western Washington was hit by a massive windstorm.  See this Op-ed on why three days is the “minimum” for preparedness with seven days, being really what is needed for major events in this region of the world.

The Case for Regional Collaboration
Barb Graff, City of Seattle Emergency Management Director and I took time to reflect on the anniversaries of Katrina and 9/11 and how we need to continue our tradition of regional planning and collaboration. This Op-ed was published in the Seattle Times on September 8, 2006.

Is your school prepared?
We often assume that schools are one of the safest places to send our children. But what about in the case of an emergency or disaster? How well prepared are the schools your children or loved ones are attending? Read Eric’s Op-Ed on just how you can help ask the right questions to better prepare the schools and ultimately protect your children.

Fixing FEMA
Following the federal response, and the ensuing fallout, to Hurricane Katrina, there have been many calls for changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. See Eric’s Op-Ed on just how and where FEMA should head into the future. (June 2006)

Are you ready?
What lessons can we really learn from the Hurricane Katrina response? Eric takes a look at regional planning to answer this question. (September 2005)

Worst cast planning – Thinking the unthinkable
Why should we as emergency managers do worst-case planning? Imagine a scenario, typically that is centered on a single type of hazard, and then to paint in words the worst possible picture of what we might be faced with. Read on to learn more of the importance of this type of planning. (August 2005)

Warning the public
What will it take to get you to evacuate a building during a fire, run to higher ground because of a tsunami or volcanic lahar, or “shelter-in-place” because a toxic substance is floating in the air outside your home? Learn why the answer is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. (June 2005)

Disaster movies are us
Where does our national infatuation with disaster movies come from? Even though my everyday business is trying to motivate people and organizations to do something to become better prepared for when disasters do strike, I have to admit I love to watch a good disaster movie. (February 2004)

Media and government: Can there be a partnership?
Read Eric’s op-ed on how in the post 9-11 world, the media and government must forge stronger relationships in order to adapt to new challenges in homeland security and emergency management. (January 2004)

TOPOFF Exercise – Gearing up for the “Super Bowl” of Homeland Security exercises
Homeland defense is a radically different concept from what the Boomer and follow-on generations of Americans have become accustomed to. Wars and issues of “national” security have traditionally been dealt with in the “other Washington,” with the military and organizations like the CIA leading the charge. See how TOPOFF 2 can be an opportunity for this “Washington” to kick off a new era of homeland security planning. (May 2003)

Nisqually earthquake retrospective
The Nisqually earthquake rocked Central Puget Sound in February 2001, registering a 6.8 magnitude and putting us through 40 seconds of strong ground motion. The ‘quake sent thousands of people in Western Washington diving under tables and desks, but why were things a ‘success’ for us? Read this op-ed, published just after the earthquake for more details. (February 2002)