As media reports of Hurricane Isaac captivate the nation’s attention, the situation on the ground for localities from Louisiana and Mississippi to Alabama and Florida has been devastating. Flooding is a major concern and, particularly in combination with downed electrical wires, it presents a huge challenge for recovery efforts.
Once again, we are reminded of the important role local governments play in emergency preparedness and recovery. While individuals are encouraged to prepare their own households, local governments have major responsibilities in preparing the community natural disasters. Since local leaders know their communities best and can usually respond the fastest, it’s especially crucial that municipalities have a plan in place for emergencies rather than waiting for outside help. Local leaders need to juggle everything from communications challenges to expense accounting for federal or state reimbursement.
While Hurricane Isaac is in the news now, hurricanes are certainly not the only natural disaster that plagues the United States. See what other local governments are doing to educate and prepare their communities for the natural disasters that may strike their region:
- City of San Rafael, Calif.: Community Emergency Preparedness Plan
- Miami-Dade County, Fla.: Department of Emergency Management
- Kendall County, Tex.: Emergency Preparedness
In addition to preparing the general public, it is especially important for local governments to make special provisions for those in the community who may have more difficulty preparing or evacuating. In Broward County, Fla. the community adopted a Vulnerable Population Registry after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. First responders use the registry after a disaster to help help locate those who may need extra assistance. The City of Fargo, N.D. has a similar program used in case of emergencies. One great community resource that has been expanding nationwide is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT is a sort of grassroots effort sponsored by FEMA to help develop and promote more emergency preparedness education programs. Supporting CERT groups in your community can help assure that when disaster strikes, every citizen knows what to do.
The best way to recover from a disaster is to be prepared in the first place. But no matter how prepared you are, hurricanes and other disasters will likely cause serious damage that requires a response and may stretch local resources. Several Knowledge Network resources can help guide your community’s emergency preparedness and disaster recovery plans:
The Knowledge Network has a number of articles and documents to help guide your future emergency preparedness plans:
- Hurricane Procedures: Hurricane preparation procedures for the City of Boynton Beach, FL.
- Local Hurricane Project Wins State Innovation Award: Georgetown County, N.C.’s award winning hurricane project works through local libraries to educate the public and chronicle hurricane history in their community.
- Jefferson County, CO Recognized for Public Health Emergency Preparedness: This article highlights this nationally recognized program and includes information about how to contact community leaders for more information.
- Local Government Use of Social Media to Prepare for Emergencies : In this article you can read more about how communities have used social media to help better prepare and inform the public about emergencies.
- Information Technology Services Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Plan : This is a sample plan from the City of Boynton Beach, Fla.
ICMA’s Integrating 311 into Disaster Response & Recovery toolkit is another helpful resource. For more 311 articles see the links below:
- Disaster Recovery: Two Cities Share Their Experiences : discusses the experiences of two communities after natural disasters, a severe wildfire in Riverside, Calif. and Hurricane Isabel in Hampton Roads, Va.
- National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) Training : In this report you can read more about training opportunities available to 311 system personnel through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS).
- Hurricane Preparedness: This case study highlights the 311 planning efforts in Orange County’s Public Safety Communications Division
FEMA provides perhaps the most comprehensive resources available on Disaster Management, and ICMA has identified additional disaster recovery resources that cover a range of issues, from insurance to rebuilding.
Brief descriptions of the resources with links to the downloadable documents follow. If your local government has material that would be helpful to communities facing disaster recovery, please submit your documents to email@example.com for posting.
Disaster Recovery Today-Adjusters International Disaster Recovery
Describes how FEMA’s Public Assistance Program affects the decision to repair, replace or relocate a damaged facility.
Disaster Recovery: A Local Government Responsibility
Focuses on the importance of long-term recovery efforts.
Post Disaster Reconstruction: The Patchwork Quilt: A Creative Strategy for Safe & Long Term Post-Disaster Rebuilding
Features specialized information on federal programs for disaster relief and funding reconstruction. Some information is specifically targeted for reconstruction after flooding.
Provides information about insurance coverage.
The hurricane season is not over, and Tropical Storm Kirk is moving West-Northwest toward the U.S. coast. Planning resources can be found at the following links.
Covers how to coordinate evacuation and transportation efforts during a disaster emergency. Details the appropriate role and response on a regional and national level, as well as articles, reports and exercises related to preparedness.
Identifies the stages required to build a holistic, integrated system of resilience in communities.