Disaster Access

Disaster Access and Re-Entry

“Access and re-entry” refers to the ability to access an area impacted by an emergency or crisis, usually a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado. Oftentimes after such an emergency, access to an area is restricted, with only first responders, critical infrastructure workers, and those transporting critical supplies allowed to enter.

US State Access and Re-Entry Map

One of the most common requests for assistance Healthcare Ready receives during emergencies is facilitating private sector access into restricted areas after a disaster. Because of this, we created an interactive map showing formal access and re-entry programs by state. Organizations can use this map to prepare in case they may need to enter an area impacted by a natural disaster or other emergency.

Note: In most states, access and re-entry decisions are made at the local level, with each county able to determine who is allowed into a disaster area. However, state level programs make it easier for counties to verify the credentials of responders, workers, and suppliers so they can quickly enter an area during a crisis to deliver assistance or keep infrastructure operational.

There are three possible designations for a state on this map:

  • Statewide Program – This state has a program it uses to manage access and re-entry.
  • City-Specific Program – This state does not have a statewide access and re-entry program but has at least one city that has its own access and re-entry program.
  • No Access and Re-entry Program – This state does not have a formal access and re-entry program.

Click on a state to view details about that state’s access and re-entry program.

Access Letters

Some jurisdictions occasionally issue letters to critical infrastructure workers and responders to support their entry into an area. For major disasters, the US Department of Homeland Security Critical Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) may also issue its own incident-specific Access Coordination Request letter (ACR letter) to request that local authorities coordinate access with critical infrastructure owners, operators, and sub-contractors. These letters do not provide authorization from the Federal government to enter a disaster area.

Importantly, even when CISA issues an ACR or if an organization is registered with a state-level disaster access program, the decision to allow an individual into an area will still be made at the county level. However, being equipped with these resources and registering with states often expedites access.

Access Denied

Click the link below to read Healthcare Ready’s Access Denied report and explore the many challenges the private sector faces in the wake of disaster. Disaster recovery creates an urgency for medical care, and historically the private sector faces difficulty in accessing facilities and providing services to patients. 

This report aims to examine the challenges and impacts that disrupt access to healthcare in the wake of disaster, analyze current programs and solutions currently utilized, present recommendations informed by best practices, and provide technical assistance to both private and public sector stakeholders. 

Click here to read the report.


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