Miami Green Homes


Why Prepare a Local Pre-Disaster Recovery Plan? (Guest post by Natalie French)

Recovery is the most complicated, lengthier, expensive and least appreciated phase of emergency management. Some recoveries can take years, and communities will never be able to go back to normal levels.  In fact, it is not realistic to create a false image that things will go back to “normal”.   Long-term recovery also has a toll on the people in charge of the process.   Experiences across the country include cities with administrators and staff who have a difficult time handling the external pressures.  After the floods of 2015, some cities in North and South Carolina saw half of their department heads resign in a three-year span, and a turnover of three to four City Managers in the same time period.

As recommended by FEMA’s “Pre-Disaster Recovery Planning Guide for Local Governments (February, 2017)”, a Recovery Plan helps avoid confusion and improvisation.  Having a plan in place improves capabilities prior to a disaster by helping city governments to:

  • Establish clear leadership roles, including the Mayor’s office, City Council, and City Manager’s office, for more decisive and early leadership.
  • Improve public confidence in leadership through early, ongoing, and consistent communication of short- and long-term priorities.
  • Avoid the often difficult, ad hoc process of post-disaster discovery of new roles, resources, and roadblocks.
  • Gain support from whole-community partnerships necessary to support individuals, businesses, and organizations.
  • Improve stakeholder and disaster survivor involvement after the disaster through a definition of outreach resources and two-way communication methods the city and key organizations will employ.
  • Maximize Federal, State, private-sector, and nongovernmental dollars through early and more defined local priorities and post-disaster planning activity.
  • Provide for more rapid and effective access to Federal and State resources through better understanding of funding resources and requirements ahead of time.
  • Enable local leadership to bring to bear all capability and more easily identify gaps through a coordination structure and defined roles.
  • Better leverage and apply limited State and nongovernment resources when there is no Federal disaster declaration.
  • Maximize opportunities to build resilience and risk reduction into all aspects of rebuilding.
  • Speed identification of local recovery needs and resources and ultimately reduce costs and disruption that result from chaotic, ad hoc, or inefficient allocation of resources.
  • Improve capability and continuity through pre identification of when, where, and how the local government will employ and seek support for post-disaster planning, city operations, recovery management, and technical assistance.
  • Proactively confront recovery and redevelopment policy choices in the deliberative and less contentious pre­disaster environment.
  • Improve the ability to interface with State and Federal Recovery Support Function structure.

A pre-disaster recovery plan provides a local-level framework for leading, operating, organizing, and managing resources for post-disaster recovery activities. The plan can then be used to implement the post-disaster recovery process and carry out post-disaster planning and management of recovery activities, such as restoring housing, rebuilding government facilities, schools, child care services, recovering businesses, identifying resources for rebuilding projects, returning social stability, and coordinating other community planning processes.  By working in advance to develop an understanding of needs and vulnerabilities, identify leaders, form partnerships, establish resources, and reach consensus on goals and policies, the community will be prepared to begin recovery immediately rather than struggle through a planning process in the wake of a disaster.

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Natalie French

Media & Emergency Management Specialist

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Age in Place, Part III: Technology

After understating the general concept of aging in place found here: und further the required physical connections found here: the next piece of the puzzle to look at the way technology contributes to the age in pace concept. There are two main areas to understand for the aging in place concept integration with technology: the personal connection and the connected infrastructure.

Personal connections are not new (anymore) and are changing at an amazing pace every day. Smart phones have long replaced personal computers in the way that we connect to each other as well to the business world around us. Video chatting, online shopping, social media and remote services are improving our personal life daily. While the youth is seeking ever sleeker ways to connect, share and integrated, no generation is excluded by these technologies. The simplification of the devices has further enabled anyone to instinctively utilize and access websites and apps. From ordering dinner at the local diner for delivery to connecting with family half way around the world, technology is here to make life easy.

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To take advantage of the network, all is need is a connection to it. This must be viewed as just another basic utility and no longer requires fixed land line connections. The personal network is easily connected to the larger infrastructure. Once established, the advantages and necessities for the age in place concept strongly focus on comfort, security and medical connection.

Of course integration of other features within the living unit are great and convenient, but the connection to outside services and utilities is the true benefit for the aging in place group. Online doctors’ visits to emergency response contacts, the technological lifeline makes remote living safe. Security can also easily be achieved with remote access, cameras and other services providing screening for visitors, deliveries and other concerns. Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” would be very different with today’s technology plug ins!

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Start with an integrated home automation system such as Control4 or Lutron to be part of any age in place design planning. There are many providers such as AT&T, Comcast, ADT, etc. that offer some sort of integration service package.

Lastly, consider researching the overall city integration for smart services. Smart City is a great site to learn more: www.SmartCity.com  or Smart Cities Council: http://smartcitiescouncil.com/