While Jessica's professional writing portfolio is wide-ranging, there are always a few favorite pieces. Right now, here are just a few of her favorites. (Here is a full list of her FEMA articles.)
Seashells don’t belong on mountains; they belong on beaches, in the ocean, in collections hoarded by children and adults alike—mementos taken from vacations gone by. You do not expect them on mountains, in the wilderness. Rather, you expect rocks, roots, discarded beer bottles, and protein bar wrappers. You would, in theory, never expect to stumble (literally) across a tiny seashell while hiking.
When I first started watching Bojack last summer, I expected a Simpsons or Bob’s Burgers-esque romp through hilarity. What did I actually get? Some funny moments, but a lot of navel-gazing. I saw pieces of myself in Bojack that I’d never seen in any other show. His pain, it was mine.
"While not the only areas impacted by the wildfires, when many think of Napa and Sonoma in California, it conjures up images of lush vineyards with rolling hills and vibrant green landscapes. Those mental images are in stark contrast to images of devastation wrought by the fires—filled with bold orange flames and gray ash as far as the eye can see. Vineyards, some of the hallmarks of the area, are being reduced to singed grapes and empty fields with nothing for a 2017 vintage; a somber reminder of its own."
"I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever rushed out of the house without my keys or wallet. I’m also sure that I won’t be the last one.
When I’m trying to leave the house for the day, I’m constantly running through a checklist of all the things I need to bring—and sometimes there are very important things that accidentally get left behind. (My keys and my wallet are two very common ones.)
But, with the job I have, sometimes I think about what I would have to do if I weren’t packing my backpack just for an 8-hour workday. What if I were packing my bag for an indefinite trip? What else would I have to remember? What else could I possibly forget?"
"Disasters don’t only happen during regular business hours. They definitely don’t keep bankers’ hours. They certainly don’t care about weekends or holidays.
Thank you, family members, for knowing and understanding this. For sticking with us. For being supportive and flexible through early mornings, late nights, deployments, and everything else that comes with a disaster response and recovery. We all appreciate it and truly wish to thank you."
"As I struggled this morning with a lot of different things, I realized that this sentiment is important. The way I feel, slightly burnt out, anxious, and stressed, isn't only the way that I feel. Others may be feeling the same way. Large-scale events or exercises may be hard on everyone. And you don't know what other people are dealing with or going through.
Whether it's a real-world disaster or a level-one exercise, if you are having a particularly difficult time with burnout or stress, the content of the exercise and its scenario, or anything in general, reach out. Reach out to your supervisor. Reach out to your teammates. Reach out to a friend, a parent, your spouse or significant other. We are in this together. We're running a marathon not a sprint."
"Walking through a pair of frosted glass doors, you immediately come upon a sea of red and blue vests swarming about a collection of brightly lit computer monitors. A visual treat. A wall of televisions blast the latest weather updates and the "tick-tock" (or "schedule" for folks outside of the agency) for the next round of reporting. Our main role as a coordinating agency is shown best in this room—known as the National Response Coordination Center."
"Three of the movies still in the running to win [Best Picture] have a common theme: resilience. It’s something we see every day—especially when we’re interacting with people affected and impacted by disasters who face some serious adversities as a result. Watching these films, it’s easy to see why we admire the characters in them. Through fictional scenarios, people can gain an understanding of the qualities we see in survivors and, maybe a little more indirectly, why many of us here at FEMA love what we do.