We’ve seen it play out over and over again in cities across the world: a disaster occurs, like a tornado, hurricane, or flood, and we witness members of that community rally around each other. Neighbors take in people who’ve lost their homes, businesses provide meals, and some even risk their own lives to save those of others. Stories and videos shared on social media provide a bright spot in the middle of tragedy.
Government organizations and processes play a vital role in making sure a community is further supported by ensuring procedures are put into place before, during, and after a disaster that will help the community recover and rebuild.
Our everyday decisions are governed by processes and routines that assist us in identifying the problem, determining strategies to resolve the problem, evaluating those alternatives, choosing the best one, and then implementing the resolution. These procedures and routines are carried out by organizations that offer consistency, commitment, and confidence in the decision-making process.
After a disaster, these processes and routines may be disrupted or may not be set up to adequately handle the litany of complex post-disaster recovery issues. A defined and shared pre-disaster process for managing disaster recovery activities, along with coordinating with local, regional, state and federal partners, is paramount to community recovery success.
Unlike the tactical incident strategies that are paramount to managing information and resources during the response phase, community disaster recovery is an organic and inductive process. It should foster community unity and an open autonomy that promotes effective decision-making that benefits the majority.
A united community will have a number of both short and long-term benefits.
Committed and structured governance would result in a rational system for efficient and effective long-term community recovery. A defined and open decision-making process will provide organizational legitimacy and improve the quality of decisions being made. Decisions will be made in a timely manner and based on a well-informed organization and public. Independent decisions may appear quick and easy, but often they meet public resistance causing increased cost and project implementation delays, if not project termination.
A committed and structured long-term community recovery structure will prevent uninformed and unilateral decisions and provide an open forum to discuss potential regulatory and budgetary challenges to implementing a project. The organization, as well as the public, take ownership in the decision and ultimately increase the ease of implementing the project.
When these elements come together, a community can recover from a disaster more efficiently and in a way that benefits the community as a whole.
Community Disaster Recovery Success Series: The Importance of Organizational Networks and Outreach and Coordination
The effectiveness of a community’s response and its ability to spearhead recovery after a disaster is often confounded by a number of factors. The severity and impacts of the event, past disaster experiences, organizational capability and capacity, and the social capital of the affected individuals and groups all factor into how a community is able to respond.
Successful community disaster recovery operations reinforce the importance of FEMA’s ‘Whole Community Approach’ and must leverage all of the resources of the community, from government to businesses to its citizens. In addition, outreach and coordination between all players should be a top priority.
Many organizations and networks are involved in the community recovery process. But the emergency management and public safety professional is still an integral component of community recovery operations. By understanding the potential impacts and possible cascading effects of different disaster types, the emergency management community can proactively identify community organizational networks that will have vital roles and responsibilities, identify organizational gaps in key recovery issues, identify strategies to build organizational capacity where needed, and incorporate these community organizational networks into the broader community recovery strategy.
A successful community recovery strategy must also consider methods and mechanisms to engage the public in important recovery decision-making processes. In a post-disaster environment, social trust in government becomes a symbolic token to a community, can extend the period of a united community, and facilitates an effective community recovery decision-making process that is supported by an established governance structure and an open decision-making process that involves the community.
The result will be a more effective recovery strategy that:
A successful public engagement is not simply measured by the number of public forums or the number of attendees. Instead, it is a more organic strategy that involves the pre-disaster engagement of key organizational networks (identified in step 2) to understand their collective roles and responsibilities in the community recovery strategy. In a post-disaster environment, the objective of the outreach and coordination strategy should be to influence key community organizations and community leaders to generate a momentum for sustained long-term community recovery that is inclusive of the community and void of individual agendas.
This post-disaster objective should be aligned with a public participation strategy that creates a new direct link between the public and the community and governmental decision makers, ensuring that those who make decisions that affect the lives of others enter into dialogue with those affected before making those decisions. Successful public outreach must provide opportunity for interested public and affected stakeholders to participate and voice opposition, support, perspectives, and opinions as the community recovery process evolves.
The inclusion of the community and emergency management professionals into future community recovery planning efforts will result in more informed community stakeholders and the reinforcement of the emergency manager’s coordination role during all phases of emergency management, including community disaster recovery. Understanding these orbits of organizational networks and their community reach will be an important element of the coordination strategy and involving these critical partners in the decision-making process.
Federal disaster recovery and reimbursement is a complex process. Past disaster recovery operations have demonstrated the need for disaster grant management systems to easily and effectively manage and track the disaster recovery funds that a community receives.
For this reason, ISC has developed a web-based tool to manage data and track the grant management process. The Odysseus™|Grant Management Tool (GMT) is a feature of the Odysseus™ Enterprise Management System, which is revolutionizing how the industry is managing its comprehensive emergency management programs. Odysseus™ is a cloud-based system that offers a suite of tools and systems designed and dedicated to the efficient management of comprehensive disaster and emergency management programs. Odysseus™ utilizes a suite of applications to promote increased participation, collaboration, transparency, and compliance—including our Grant Management Tool.
GMT provides users with a ready-to-use or customized grant management system that allows the organization to track, administer, and report grant funding. GMT serves as a centralized location to collaborate on projects and automates workflow to increase efficiency. Personalized dashboards highlight pending tasks and can help gauge the overall progress of the disaster and funding. This database is customizable to meet our clients’ needs and can easily integrate with a web-based application to increase accuracy in data reporting as well as transparency and compliance across your organization.
Here are just a few features of the Odysseus GMT.
GMT can be integrated into current client processes and systems to help drive workload, track performance, monitor funding queues, create reports, monitor compliance, and audit requirements. Personalized dashboards highlight pending tasks and can help gauge the overall progress of the disaster and funding. This database is customizable to meet our clients’ needs and can easily integrate with a web-based application to increase accuracy in data reporting.
ISC’s Disaster Grant Management Tool has been integrated into our Odysseus™ Planning and Program Management System, providing a comprehensive platform to manage preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation/resiliency activities across a shared and integrated system. For more information or to schedule a free demo, visit www.odysseus-solutions.com.
The United States is currently in the midst of its annual spring flood season, and as such, jurisdictions around the country have been ramping up efforts to improve their response capabilities to this threat.
While the impact thus far in 2020 has been down compared to last year, the National Weather Service states that the chance of riverine is still 10% to 30% higher than average. By the agency’s estimation, over 128 million Americans will see some level of flooding throughout the spring. Of these individuals, 1.2 million, primarily located in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains, have an elevated risk of experiencing “major” flooding.
Flooding is oftentimes an underrated risk throughout the United States. However, it accounts for over 100 deaths and $50 billion in damages each year. The American Rivers Foundation has stated that the following areas are at the highest risk of flooding:
Integrated Solutions Consulting has been supporting flood response and recovery operations since 2006, working to ensure that jurisdictions across the nation have the resources necessary to support their residents. In 2019, ISC worked to respond to flooding throughout the Midwest region, including the introduction of drone and 3D imagery to track and inspect flood levels and damage.
Utilizing this technology in Alton, Illinois, ISC was able to track the Mississippi River flood levels as they rose and fell along the downtown Alton riverfront and levees. ISC is proud to offer this service to jurisdictions across the nation, as it can be utilized to help document and track infrastructure damages for Public Assistance reimbursement.
If you have any questions or would like to see this technology implemented in your area, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.