Our team at ISC was honored to have Dr. Paul O'Malley, superintendent of schools for Butler School District 53 in Illinois, join us for a webinar to discuss how schools can look back on the past school year and ahead to the future as public and private schools systems continue to recover from the pandemic.
During this unprecedented pandemic, Dr. O'Malley continues to be instrumental in implementing proactive and innovative mitigation strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in his schools. During this webinar, Dr. O'Malley talked about the challenge of balancing the need to offer a first-class educational experience while ensuring the safety and well-being of students, staff, and the community at large.
ISC is working with communities to ensure the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine Hesitancy is a significant factor contributing to low uptake in COVID-19 vaccinations and ISC aims to ensure that everyone can get vaccinated.
Vaccine Hesitancy is a behavior “Influenced by a lack of trust in the medical community, concerns about vaccine safety, efficacy, necessity or convenience and other issues related to vaccination” (Nabet, Gable, Eder, & Feemster, 2017).
These concerns are widely shared within Black and Latinx communities, and their problems are historical in nature. The impacts of past medical experience and overall treatment of Black and Latinx communities have led to the vaccine hesitancy seen today.
ISC is working to ensure that Black and Latinx communities are provided with the information they need to understand the importance of vaccinating against COVID-19.
Our efforts include vaccine education, equitable distribution, vaccination events targeting specific communities, and partnerships with organizations that promote equitable healthcare access. However, we cannot do it alone.
Healthcare workers will be important partners in this effort. Doctors, primary care physicians, nurses, and others in the healthcare industry are trusted advisors to patients. Healthcare professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and combating vaccine hesitancy.
Healthcare providers should:
To get back to “normal,” we all need to ensure that everyone has access to the COVID-19 vaccine. ISC is working to make this a reality and will continue to work diligently for healthcare distribution and ensuring access to the vaccine within all communities.
Find out more about ISC’s vaccine and pandemic experience.
With every summer comes the threat of hurricanes and, as a result, the necessity to evacuate large coastal populations out of harm’s way. Implementing an evacuation order is a complex operation that requires significant planning, analysis, and coordination to execute the order in an efficient and effective method. Communities cannot underestimate the importance of conducting a hurricane evacuation study and the value of evacuation clearance time modeling to help facilitate good decision-making and operational effectiveness.
Recent new advancements in technology will not only improve decision-making, but also serve as an invaluable tool to operationally visualize evacuation behavior patterns and improve evacuation operations.
A Hurricane Evacuation Study typically consists of major components, each utilized to inform decision making within evacuation scenarios. These five components are as follows:
Hazards Analysis: Utilized to determine the probable worst-case effects from the various intensities and approaching direction of hurricanes that could strike the region.
Vulnerability Analysis: Utilized to identify the areas, populations, and facilities that are potentially vulnerable to storm surge, flooding, and tremendous wind damage under a variety of hurricane threats.
Behavioral Analysis: Forming assumptions that must be made regarding the manner in which the population in and around the vulnerable area will react to the threat, including the percentage that will evacuate, response times to evacuation orders, probable destinations, the number of vehicles that will be used (including the number that may be motor homes or towing boats/campers), the evacuation response of tourists, movement of evacuees from other jurisdictions into the area of study, and the percentage of evacuees who would require public assistance for emergency transportation.
Shelter Analysis: Utilized to estimate the number of evacuees that will seek public shelter and the number of shelter spaces available and to provide information for use in determining the Evacuation Clearance Times in the transportation analysis.
Transportation Analysis: Utilized to calculate the clearance times needed to conduct a safe and timely evacuation for a range of hurricane threats. Other purposes are to define the evacuation roadway network and to evaluate traffic control measures/highway improvements for improved traffic flow.
In conducting a transportation analysis, a primary means of planning and preparing for evacuations involves the use of computer modeling to calculate evacuation clearance times. These traffic models have been used for a variety of emergency/evacuation/reentry scenarios by changing the appropriate network and traffic flow parameters. Evacuation Clearance Time is the estimated time necessary to safely evacuate people, from the time an evacuation order is given until the time when either the last evacuee leaves the evacuation zone (given various factors such as the type of hazard or threat, level of notice of the incident, population characteristics of the area at the time, and public behavior) or the remaining population is forced to shelter-in-place due to conclusion of operations as the hazard begins to impact the area. Clearance times are used by emergency management staff to determine the window of opportunity available to initiate an evacuation order, and ensure that evacuees have enough time to reach safety before the threat or hazard arrives.
Integrated Solutions Consulting is currently deploying new evacuation simulation modeling technologies to assist communities in not only estimating evacuation clearance times, but also simulate complex vehicle interactions on a macro and micro level, help to identify system bottlenecks, understand evacuation behaviors, and aid in evaluating traffic management strategies based on various operational and behavioral conditions and assumptions
There are a number of evacuation simulation modeling software tools available in the marketplace, all with varying capabilities and functionalities. Integrated Solutions Consulting’s evacuation modeling experts have composed a list of recommendations for what factors should be included in an ideal model. While no model may be able to achieve every one of the recommendations listed, jurisdictions should work to ensure that as many of the factors as possible are incorporated into their planning efforts for the most accurate forecast outcomes.
Immediately after his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed several executive orders to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes assigning a COVID-19 Response Coordinator, ensuring equitable pandemic response and recovery, and increasing the reimbursement and other assistance provided to each state. Specifically, the President’s Memorandum to Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and Other Assistance Provided to States indicates that FEMA will fund 100 percent of the cost of activities associated with all mission assignments for the use of the National Guard and emergency protective measures. This executive order also addresses expediting the reimbursement of emergency work projects.
Under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program, and in accordance with section 502 of the Stafford Act, eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and for the safe opening and operation of eligible schools, child-care facilities, healthcare facilities, non-congregate shelters, domestic violence shelters, transit systems, and other eligible applicants may be reimbursable. This assistance may include funding for the purchase and distribution of personal protective equipment, disinfecting services, and supplies.
To ensure reimbursement under these federal grant programs, there is a significant amount of documentation of costs and numerous tasks to complete. All eligible costs must be substantiated and supported by documentation, such as 214s, labor and equipment summaries, invoices, and a timeline of events. We can anticipate that previous guidance provided by FEMA will be amended to address the ongoing pandemic and therefore it is prudent that all eligible applicants accurately document costs incurred due to COVID-19 and the appropriate funding that is being captured to reimburse for these costs. If previous grants were submitted to FEMA and denied, applicants are strongly encouraged to reevaluate those claims for potential reversal of decisions and submit an appeal.
Due to the complexity of federal disaster reimbursement and the burden on entities dealing with the response to COVID-19, eligible entities can contract with experienced vendors to assist with the PA reimbursement process. These costs are eligible for reimbursement. More information is expected to be released this week, so we will update this post as necessary.
Our team at ISC has been involved in the pandemic response in several large metropolitan areas since March 2020. Currently, we’re assisting in mass vaccination plans and cost recovery services. If you’re interested in how our team might be able to help your organization, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A great number of schools across the United States have gone fully or partially remote this year in an attempt to avoid the spread of COVID-19. According to the National COVID-19 School Response Dashboard, as of November 22, 2020, about 13 million of about 28 million students in the United States were still attending classes at least partially in-person.
Positive COVID-19 cases among children remain low. However, with cases on the rise in many communities across the country, some districts are faced with a lack of the necessary adult staff required to keep in-person learning possible.
A national poll of parents, released by the National Parents Union, 38% of parents feel that their children are learning less than they would during a normal school year and nearly 40% believe their children aren’t getting enough time to interact with other students.
While schools are doing their best to ensure remote learning environments remain effective and accessible for students and staff, it is still not an ideal learning environment and school officials, teachers, parents, and students are looking forward to the time they can return to a more regular schedule.
Two districts in Illinois (a state where only about 29% of schools are providing in-person learning only) have managed to stay open all fall and have no plans to switch to remote learning.
Butler School District 53 and Gower School District 62 in Oak Brook, Illinois, are determined to remain open for in-person learning – safely – for the 2020-2021 school year. According to Dr. Paul O’Malley, Superintendent of Schools for District 53 and Dr. Victor Simon Superintendent of Schools for District 62, cite strong parental involvement, a determination to stay open, and preparing for worst-case scenario from the very beginning has led to their success.
Dr. O’Malley and Dr. Simon partnered together from the beginning of the pandemic to create a process from top to bottom. They got ahead of the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and were proactive about putting the safety measures into place that they’d need to keep their schools open.
The districts spent the summer planning for a return to in-person learning. The plan addressed five main issues:
“We’ve been beating the drum on testing since July,” says Simon. “We really did try to get other districts to join us in an effort to bring on-site testing to their schools, but it seemed like the general response from was more of a ‘yeah, but’ instead of a ‘yeah, how.’ Concerns ranged from size of district to funding, but this is about getting started and moving forward to be part of the solution. Being able to identify and isolate COVID-19 infections quickly has helped us control any potential spread, reduce time on contact tracing, and prevents a dependency on getting results elsewhere.”
Both districts also locked down all water fountains, enhanced sanitation measures, and hired extra substitute teachers to step in, along with additional bus drivers and other staff whose sole focus is sanitizing surfaces throughout the day. Students are required to wear masks at all times and are socially distanced within classrooms and in common areas. District 53 piloted UV lighting throughout the school for sanitation and District 62 purchased standalone, commercial-grade air purifiers for each room and upgraded filters in the HVAC system.
“We built our plan for worst-case scenario,” says O’Malley. “We started off with the strictest elements of everything.”
They’ve had continued success throughout the fall, in spite of rising COVID-19 numbers in the state of Illinois due to consistent enforcement and cooperation from staff, parents, students, and the community. In fact, the school didn’t have its first positive case until right before Thanksgiving.
The districts also brought Integrated Solutions Consulting (ISC) in to help with logistics, facilitate discussions with teachers, parents, staff, and the community about the plan.
“ISC is helping us monitor progress and ensure that we have independent corroboration that we’re taking all necessary measures to keep our schools open. We also want to make sure that our employees have room to say what improvements they see room for,” says O’Malley.
Since August 2020, Team ISC has helped put the following safety measures into place.
“ISC has been fortunate to work with such open and progressive leadership on this initiative,” says George DeTella, Managing Director, Public Health, ISC. “Leadership is critical during these times, and decisive decision-making and continued enforcement of necessary mitigation standards have been key to success.”
Some students chose remote learning at the beginning of the year and the districts do have a plan should they need to implement an “adaptive pause” and switch to remote learning district-wide and have a succession plan in the event administrators and even the superintendent were to get ill or need to quarantine.
For other districts looking to implement similar measures, O’Malley recommends starting small. “Create a plan that is scalable and flexible. Compartmentalize the different elements and look for wins. You’re not going to be able to do it all at once.”
Simon agrees. “If you focus on what you can’t yet do, you’ll get stuck.” He also encourages districts interested in learning more about the Districts’ safety measures and how they can implement them in their own district to visit the Return to School page, listen to an Illinois Association of School Administrators podcast featuring the districts’ plan, and watch this video.
Both superintendents are encouraged by the success Districts 53 and 62 have had and are hopeful for the rest of the school year. “We should all be taking advantage of the fact that schools can actually be one of the safest places because it’s a controlled environment.”
From October 8-10, the Great Chicago Fire burned through the city of Chicago. In the end, the fire killed 300 people, destroyed about 3.3 miles of the city, and burned 17,500 buildings.
While the exact cause of the fire was never exactly determined, it is believed to have started in a barn belonging to a family by the name of O’Leary. It rapidly spread to surrounding buildings and spreading rapidly. It was aided by a drought and the fact that most buildings in the city at the time were constructed of wood. The most common belief is that Mrs. O’Leary’s cows knocked over a lantern, igniting Great Chicago Fire.
But what if it wasn’t Mrs. O’Leary’s cow at all?
There is evidence that the Great Chicago Fire was actually caused by a meteorite shower, not Mrs. O'Leary's cow. A fragment of Biela's Comet is believed to have broken off, resulting in the reported spontaneous ignitions, lack of smoke, and "fire balloons" falling from the sky reported that night. This theory would also explain the fires that occurred north of Chicago in Peshtigo, Wisconsin at the same time. The Peshtigo Fire resulted in 2,000 deaths and 4 million acres of farm and prairies burned.
A meteorite is a small particle of matter that originates in the solar system and reaches the surface of the earth without being completely vaporized. Meteor showers result in between 50,000 and 100,000 tons of space dust and meteorites falling on the planet every year.
So what does this have to do with modern emergency management and disaster recovery?
As emergency managers, we must continuously debunk these historical myths so we’re informed and can take a proactive approach for all hazards. While not common, celestial disasters have occurred in the past. In order to mitigate, we just need to know where to look for them. And some of our country’s top agencies are dedicating resources to help do just that.
In 2015, FEMA and NASA came together to form the Planetary Impact Emergency Response Working Group (PIERWG) in order to “"develop guidance to prepare for any potential impact of our planet by a large natural object."
NASA also established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) to manage its ongoing mission of planetary defense. According to NASA’s website, the PDCO:
Understanding these historic events will help us be prepared for future disasters.
As communities begin to rebuild after the devastating wildfires this year, we’re reflecting back on the various projects our team has worked on where we were able to help clients prepare for, respond to, and recover from wildfires. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to support numerous communities across the West Coast and beyond manage their wildfire threat, which is increasing every year. There are many reasons why the risk of wildfire is on the rise, but there is mounting empirical evidence and a growing number of experts in the scientific community that have pointed to global warming as one of the many reasons. There are many perspectives to this position and this post is not intended to voice partisan views on the subject. However, we do want to take the opportunity to highlight how science–specifically applied research methods–can help elevate our understanding of our community’s risk and vulnerability to wildfires.
In October 2017, San Diego County recognized the 10-year anniversary of the October 2007 wildfires which burned over 370,000 acres, destroyed 2,590 structures, and resulted in 10 deaths. During this time of remembrance and reflection, the County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services (OES) also sought to identify if and how residents had changed their hazard risk behaviors and preparedness habits since the 2007 wildfires. The OES had completed a preparedness study in 2007, and they wanted to identify any changes that had occurred since 2007. With the anniversary date looming only two months away, San Diego OES hired ISC to create and distribute a social scientific study to investigate evidence-based metrics of community preparedness.
The survey was distributed to a representative sample of San Diego County residents over age 18 and in multiple languages and formats. The 2017 survey also addressed errors to sampling, coverage, measurement, and nonresponses that existed in the 2007 study, in order to increase the precision and accuracy of the findings. We ensured that the data results would be reliable within a 95% confidence level.
The study provided valuable insights into respondent behavior including but not limited to:
In October 2017, ISC delivered a detailed report to San Diego OES that provided descriptive insights into the preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation behaviors of their residents. Furthermore, ISC’s data analysis of the scientific data offered San Diego OES with valuable insight on how to improve their various disaster preparedness programs and enhance the community’s steady-state of readiness.
San Diego OES launched a public information campaign as a result of the 2017 study that sought to educate residents about the dangers of wildfires and how they can better prepare.
This was not ISC’s only community disaster preparedness study. Learn more about other clients we’ve completed disaster preparedness studies for and how it can help your community’s ability to respond, recover, and build a resilient community. Contact us at email@example.com.
ISC Trains Palm Beach County’s Community Emergency Response Team for the Upcoming COVID-Hurricane Season
The Integrated Solutions Consulting (ISC) Training and Exercise Group recently supported a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Drill for the Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management (PBC DEM).
Palm Beach County’s Division of Emergency Management is a leader in Florida and across the nation for CERT training and program management. Their CERT teams and individually trained CERT members are spread across the County ready to assist during disasters and pre-planned events.
The ISC team designed, developed, and delivered a training exercise for 25 CERT members representing CERT teams across Palm Beach County. The training was designed to provide CERT members with updated information and tools that represent real-work skills they can use in the event of an emergency. The drill covered the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) along with hands-only CPR to provide lifesaving skills, Stop the Bleed training for trauma wound care, scene safety, and securing a vehicle after an accident.
Adding to the event’s complexity was providing realistic training in a COVID-19 environment. To mitigate the concerns for COVID-19, the drill was moved to a large outdoor venue, allowing a large amount of social distancing while training. Participants were checked for body temperatures and face masks and hand sanitizer were provided and used between all training scenarios. To further mitigate any concerns over COVID-19, the ISC training team had six staff instructors that are also paramedics in the event a participant had a medical emergency.
During the post-drill review, CERT members complimented the Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management and the training team for providing realistic training that was outside the normal topics that they typically receive.
Mr. Bill Johnson, the Director for the Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management, had this to say after the drill. “These are challenging times for emergency management and for the residents of Palm Beach County. During these difficult times the Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management continues to excel in providing world-class training opportunities for our CERT volunteers. One example of this is our partnering with Integrated Solutions Consulting training team that developed and provided an outstanding CERT drill in a safe and productive environment. Training and drills like this keep our CERT response partners prepared for the next emergency. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also maintain a level of vigilance for the elevated threat of this year’s hurricane season.
ISC is honored to continue a long and professional relationship with PBC DEM as a provider of emergency management training, exercises, planning support and post disaster assistance. Learn more about ISC's education, training, and exercise development and our other comprehensive services.
Inclusive planning is an essential part of all planners’ jobs. As disaster, emergency management, and public health planners, understanding inclusive planning is critical. The concept of inclusive planning is not a new notion; however, it is one that deserves significantly more attention. In our field, we are trained to write plans that serve the “whole community.”
In theory, the notion of ensuring our plans, trainings, and exercises consider the whole community seems simple; however, in practice, inclusively planning for the whole community is not and should not be a simplistic, one-size-fits-all concept. Time and time again we see the inequitable impact of disasters, and it is time to understand the important role planning can have in either exasperating vulnerabilities or more equitably supporting disaster resiliency (Ferreira, & Figley, 2015).
To frame this discussion, we must first agree that the impact of disasters is not only attributable to the natural event. As Wisner et. al (2004) saliently noted, disasters are also the product of social, political, and economic environments. Disasters cannot be separated from the social frameworks that impact how the hazards affect people (Meyer, 2017). Vulnerability to a disaster is often connected to socioeconomic levels and land settlement patterns and disaster recovery often happens disproportionately (Shreve, 2014).
For an entire community to be prepared, survive, and recover from a disaster, we assert that planners need to move beyond assessing the aggregate need of a population and understand the resources and root causes for vulnerabilities that exist within the community (Bolin and Kurtz, 2017).
Both international and domestic disaster policy and frameworks are relatively new and still evolving. In the US, the first federal program that targeted disaster relief was the 1950 Federal Disaster Assistance Program. The United Nations (UN) will typically offer aid once a country requests help unless the UN declares the issue a humanitarian crisis. All UN response activities are coordinated by a central office known as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which can be seen as similar to the coordination of emergency response stemming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (OCHA, 2016). Domestic organizations focused on disaster planning and response can benefit from the existing international aid architecture and humanitarian response guidelines that place people affected by the crisis or disaster at the center of response efforts.
One of the primary international guidelines for disaster response is the SPHERE Handbook. The SPHERE Handbook provides a common set of principles and universal minimum standards for delivering humanitarian response. One of the unique aspects of the handbook is the encouragement of the disaster-affected population, their local government, and local agencies to be active participants in decisions about their recovery and ensure the humanitarian response is people-centered. This includes providing information in a language that is accessible to the community.
The SPHERE concept also encourages active participation of the community, churches, and schools to be part of community disaster planning. Community involvement needs to happen before a disaster to ensure community engagement will be sustained during and after a disaster.
Gathering accurate data is also essential. Census data only provides a snapshot of the community for a timeframe and often lacks information on the most vulnerable community members, such as residents who do not have legal status or the homeless population. To truly provide equitable disaster planning and relief, disaster planners need to understand the community beyond Census data.
According to Susan Cutter, “In the actually planning for emergencies, social vulnerability is captured under the heading of special needs populations.” This generalized title does not account for the diverse needs of people that fall either into the special needs group, at-risk label, or the general tag of vulnerable (Stough and Kelman, 2017; Cutter, Emrich, 2015). In disaster literature and framework, these terms are too frequently used interchangeably, often with different intended meanings. Ultimately, the lack of clarity will impact individual disaster survival and resiliency. The SPHERE Handbook notes “vulnerability is specific to each person and each situation.”
“The words we choose are important to ensure we are understood and that our meanings are not misinterpreted” (Curtis, Azoulay, 2014). As consultants and planners, we have a responsibility to ensure we are supporting and enhancing all members of the community. The weight of the verbiage we utilize in our plans is crucial to provide the foundational work for comprehensive emergency management that serves the entire community. As planners, we must be cognizant of our word choices and be critical not just of the intent but also the consequences, and, ultimately, the impact of our words.
To be successful planners, we must understand that the whole community should be redefined to be fully inclusive. We achieve this through:
At ISC we work to ensure all our project engagements go beyond meeting minimum standards and exceed the needs of the client and communities. For example, ISC produced the Miami-Dade THIRA using an assessment supported by a rigorous methodological process that incorporated over 4,500 community indicators and scientifically-based measurements used to reliably and accurately assess the County’s vulnerability, capability, and risks to natural, technological, and political hazards. Differences in the hazard’s impact area, amount and severity of damage, duration of the event, and direct and indirect economic impacts make it difficult to develop empirical values that can be universally applied to each hazard category. Therefore, the risk methodology used by Miami-Dade considered not only the probability of the event occurring but also the potential physical, economic, and social impact to the community.
Another example is the Community, Vulnerability, Risk & Resiliency (CVR2) Model, which serves as a dynamic planning tool that utilizes proven hazard analysis strategies and processes to build partner consensus, ensure uniformity, and provide results that are operationally significant. CVR2 operates by utilizing several input parameters consisting of hazard profiles, economic, social, and physical community vulnerabilities and other special community concerns. These inputs are assessed and evaluated to determine the risk to the community from a specific or multiple hazard threat(s). The output of the CVR2 Model is a prioritized indication of planning risk considerations that can be incorporated into the community’s comprehensive preparedness efforts, providing a foundation that will increase programmatic efficiency, operational effectiveness, and a unified common operational picture. The CVR2 Model is a culmination of over 100 years of emergency and disaster management knowledge and incorporates over a decade of research of hazard risk assessment methodologies by several of the nation’s premier disaster researchers.
We recognize the weight each project engagement has not only on the short term but the long-term resilience of the communities in which we work (Kendra, Clay, and Gill, 2018). We also recognize the need to continually innovate, which means not only utilizing state of the art technology, but also continuing to enhance equity and justice in the fields of emergency management and public health to better serve people and the environment. We also challenge ourselves to continue to learn. We achieve this by working to understand and not repeat past missteps in our field, expanding our diversity and inclusion practical applications, operationalizing equity, and listening to the community (Webb, 2017).
Community Disaster Recovery Success Series Coordinating and Supporting Recovery Functions and Assessing Community Impact
The severity and impacts of a disaster, as well as the disaster-experience, capability, capacity, and perspective of the affected individuals and groups, will have profound effect in how recovery is defined and activities are prioritized. Similar to other operational phases of emergency management (i.e., preparedness, response, and mitigation), recovery does not exist within a defined boundary of activities or timeframe. Recovery is a complex process in which pre-disaster emergency management practices, community cultures, and bureaucratic systems can have profound influence on the recovery process.
There is not a defined transition from response to recovery, and therefore the most daunting challenges faced during response such as debris removal, sheltering/temporary housing, and restoration of critical lifeline infrastructures often carry over into disaster recovery operations. In essence, the ability to effectively manage and deliver vital short-term needs and to understand the challenges of recovery prior to the event have a direct effect on communities’ ability to focus on broader sustained long-term recovery objectives and influence long-term recovery decisions.
There are litanies of disaster recovery activities that will be led or supported by various community organizations. Identifying these disaster recovery actions and aligning them to local organizations that have the capabilities, capacities, and resources before the disaster will elevate a community’s resiliency and help expedite a successful recovery process.
One of the most immediate, and critical, operational needs for community disaster recovery is the timely and accurate assessment of post-disaster community needs that is incorporated into community recovery strategy. A timely impact analysis and accurate needs assessment sets the operational tempo for the long-term community recovery. It also provides the necessary intelligence about the severity of the impacts to local, regional, state and federal partners.
A community's impact assessment process should be comprised of three stages:
1) community impact profiles
2) community cross-sector impact analysis
3) impact assessment and analysis.
This information will be used not only to justify the necessity of a disaster declaration and initiating your disaster recovery strategies, but it will also provide an operational framework in which disaster management leadership and local community stakeholders are afforded a visionary perspective of potential disaster recovery issues. Most importantly, these assessments provide communities with a strategic perspective that extends beyond tactical operations of delivering immediate community needs and provides a framework for the management of sustained long-term recovery operations.
There has been growing attention on the importance of thoroughly understanding pre-disaster vulnerabilities and their association with understanding potential disaster impacts. Evidence has demonstrated that large-scale hazard events exacerbate the preexisting conditions of a community. This finding provides clarity that a community’s threat and hazard risks are a function not only of a community’s core capabilities and potential hazard impacts but also provides support that consideration must be made to evaluate the community’s pre-disaster conditions that either heighten or reduce its vulnerability to disaster.
When disasters happen, they have a cascading impact on a community and its residents, essential services, and critical assets. Understanding the ways a community is vulnerable before the disaster can assist in coordinating support functions and conducting a timely and accurate assessment of community hazard impacts.
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