I have attended a class the last two weeks on Emergency Readiness for disaster. This is a free five week course put on by the Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security. I hope to write a little each week about each class and my take-aways, in the hopes that others will see the importance of being prepared for short term emergencies. This weeks lecture focused on sustainable and resilient communities.
What is meant by sustainable and resilient communities? Here are the definitions as given for this lecture:
Sustainable: People and property kept out of way of disasters. Building properties that are not in direct line of a potential disaster, or building property with potential for natural disaster to strike. Take for example a waterfront home. In our area the potential for hurricane damage or flooding is high. So build the home with the necessary precautions to sustain the conditions that may prevail. Of course, nothing can withstand a major hurricane, but upgrading the building and properly aligning the footprint may prevent as much damage from a lower class hurricane.
Resilient: The ability to react and recover quickly from a disaster. This ties in a little with sustainable, as if the proper is built to withstand, it will sustain less damage allowing a quick recovery. But resilient goes a step further in that the individuals are prepared to handle these disasters. Knowledge, training, and immediate access to necessary supplies are key as to how an individual will react and recover.
The theory of developing sustainable & resilient communities is:
- overall costs will be cut in recovery
- recovery time will decrease
- amount of damage to a community will be far less
- loss of life will decrease
- Improve strength of communities
To me it just makes sense, that neighborhoods become the first step to strengthening our resolve to quickly and efficiently recover from a disaster-depending less on the ability of a government to step in and do it all.
Making communities sustainable and resilient depends on the commitment of the members of that community. Members must be willing to be involved, share, and help both themselves and others in the community. Commitment and involvement from more members will aid in a quicker recovery to the norm after a disaster.
A small group of individuals in a community can get the ball rolling by:
- Doing a risk evaluation or identifying potential risks in the community
- Setting a plan for the community that is both pro-active and reactive
- Empowering members in the community to be involved
- Making sure that those active members are organized, informed and trained if necessary
- Having effective and responsible leadership who inspires members
- Helping maintain responsible and healthy community institutions, businesses, and services
This, of course, is not an all inclusive list, but it is a starting point for any community to take large steps forward in growing a sustainable and resilient community. The benefits of community members being involved and working together will significantly increase the chances of that community recovering quickly, with less damage and loss of life.
Also a series of articles from a good friend on Mental Attitude for Emergency Readiness