Category Archives: Community Resilience

4th National Conference on Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships

Nathaniel Tablante, Extension Poultry Veterinarian and EDEN Point of Contact, University of Maryland College Park, attended this conference on EDEN’s behalf.  Below are his takeaways.

Welcome slide to the 4th National Conference Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships

 

The 4th National Conference on Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships was held on October 15-16, 2014 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C. I represented EDEN and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

This annual conference is a partnership between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and U.S. Northern Command. This year’s agenda focused on our interconnected world, from neighborhoods to the global partnerships. Speakers discussed evolving risks to the infrastructure that powers, transports, informs, and otherwise connects organizations and the people they serve. Discussions involved emerging issues such as climate adaptation and cybersecurity, as well as innovative efforts to leverage philanthropy, technology, trained corporate volunteers, and information-sharing networks through public-private partnerships. It was good to see many representatives from both the government and private sectors as well as academia participate in lively and productive discussions on various ways to strengthen disaster resilience though public-private partnerships (P3s).

Here are some highlights:

Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security delivered a powerful keynote address, “The Road Ahead to Partnership.” He stressed the importance of public-private partnerships to homeland security. In particular, he pointed out that the American public is very anxious about the threats posed by ISIL and Ebola and encouraged calm, meaningful dialogue among public officials, the private sector, and the media regarding these threats to national security and public health.

The first session, “The Evolving Threat Environment,” involved three panelists, Thomas Fanning (President and CEO of Southern Company), Keith Squires (Commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety), and Francis Taylor (DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis). This unclassified briefing presented emerging threats from the perspective of government intelligence leaders, risk experts, and corporate CEOs, and set the foundation to examine how preparedness and resilience efforts can reduce the likelihood and/or impact of these threats.

Gen. Taylor provided a government perspective on threats to national security. He stated that the Al Qaeda core and its affiliates continue to be a major threat to the U.S. with aviation as the number one risk. He also warned that ISIL is a terrorist and military organization that has a Westernized propaganda arm that appears to be very effective in recruiting Westerners who become “lone wolf” threats. He stressed the importance of understanding threats at every level and that sharing information with local enforcement agencies is critical to the successful mitigation of these threats. For his part, Mr. Squires shared the State perspective on threats to national security. He cited that information sharing is critical to homeland security. He mentioned that there used to be a government monopoly on information on threat activity with absolutely no information being shared with the private sector prior to 9/11. He emphasized the vital role played by post-9/11 Fusion Centers, a “collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.” Mr. Fanning shared the private sector perspective and pointed out that cyber and physical threats are inseparable and recommended a “bottom-up, top-down” approach to addressing these threats. He also stressed that good corporate governance is the key to success and that everybody has the capability to deliver goods and services when necessary. Gen. Taylor shared a final thought on the importance of educating business and local leaders about risks and threats to national security. He mentioned that “low probability, high impact” events happen every day but we never prepare for them. Mr. Fanning also pointed out that threats are not fixed but continue to evolve and mutate, therefore we should be flexible and focus not only on preparedness but also on rapid response.

The second panel discussion, “The Interconnected World: Challenges and Opportunities,” involved William Beary (Chief of Engineer Operations, NORAD), Shoshana Lew (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation and Policy, DOT), and Nick Shufro (Director of Sustainable Solutions, PricewaterhouseCoopers). This panel discussed evolving approaches to risk management and innovative ways that the private sector and government can engage and collaboratively prepare and protect their organizations and communities from the threats outlined in the previous panel.

Two breakout sessions were held in the afternoon of October 15. The first set of breakout sessions focused on “Badging and Credentialing,” “Bridging the Cyber/Physical Connection”, “Business Continuity and Corporate Philanthropy: Why Resilience is Good for the Corporate Will”, and “Technology and Voluntary Capabilities.” I attended the “Technology and Voluntary Capabilities” session which involved Rakesh Bahraini (West Coast Lead, Cisco Tactical Operations), Deanne Criswell (Incident Management Assistance Team Lead, FEMA), Harmony Mabrey (Senior Operations Manager, Microsoft Disaster Response), Andrew Rasiej (Chairman, NY Tech Meetup), and Ted Okada (Chief Technology Officer, FEMA) who moderated the session. This session explored the role of technology volunteers in disasters as well as collaborations with government and non-government organizations focused on community resilience. Mr. Bahraini of Cisco cited the numerous benefits of involving company employees in disaster preparedness and response, among which are boosting employee morale, doing something tangible, and increasing employee retention. Mr. Okada of FEMA cited that the critical needs during disasters are volunteers and equipment such as cables and routers. Ms. Mabrey of Microsoft stated that employees want to get involved in this effort anyway so volunteers are always available. The panel agreed that Best Practices standards are essential, including pre-credentialing of volunteers and having a reserve of equipment.

The second set of breakout sessions focused on “Driving Mitigation and Resilience,” “Cross-sector Collaboration Opportunities Using Critical Infrastructure Big Data Analytics,” “Business Emergency Operations Centers – Maximizing Coordination at the State and Local Level,” and “Volunteers and Donations.” I attended the session on “Driving Mitigation and Resilience” which involved Michael Grimm (Director of Risk Reduction Division, FEMA) and Sean Kevelighan (Head of Government and Industry Affairs, Zurich North America). Mr. Grimm opened the session by stating that resilience is the ability to act on information. Mr. Kevelighan assured everyone that although insurance usually kicks in after a disaster, insurance companies such as Zurich are also involved in mitigation and risk assessment. He shared Zurich’s program on global flood mitigation and stressed that his company spends a lot of money on information gathering and risk modeling. He also pointed out that Zurich educates consumers on how to mitigate risks.

The second and final day of the conference started with a recap of the previous day’s session. The discussion was led by Assistant Secretary Caitlin Durkovich, Office of Infrastructure Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Director Randel Zeller, J9 Interagency Directorate, NORAD and USNORTHCOM. This brief recap was immediately followed by a panel discussion, “Public-Private Partnerships in Action” which was moderated by Dr. Mark Troutman, Associate Director, George Mason University School of Law’s Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security. The panelists included Susan Maybaumwisniewski (Vice President, Policy, Business Executives for National Security), Seth Miller Gabriel (P3 Analyst, Institute for Public Private Partnerships), John Odermatt (Managing Director, Office of Emergency Management & Fraud Surveillance, Citi), and Michael DeJong (Mational Cybersecurity Branch, Canada).

Mr. Odermatt stated that an all hazards approach works best for companies and localities and must include cyber events. Mr. DeJong reported that Public Safety Canada has a cybersecurity branch and that the biggest indication of a cyber-attack is its physical initiation. Ms. Maybaumwisniewski commented that the government can partner best with industry through planning and organization. Mr. Gabriel stressed the need for political leadership in order to extend resources to educate the right people.

The last panel discussion was a “Leadership Roundtable” involving a Q&A session with Robert Griffin (General Manager for i2, Threat and Counter Fraud Business Unit, Information and Analytics, IBM Software Group), Andrew Guzzon (Vice President, W.W. Grainger, Inc.), and Susan Hartman (Sr. Group Manager for Corporate Security Strategic Partnerships, Target). Russ Paulsen (Executive Director, Community Preparedness and Resilience, American Red Cross) moderated the session.

Q: (Paulsen)- How do your companies approach resilience?

A: (Guzzon) – Resilience is about communicating when an event happens. We help each other after an event and make sure that the supply chain is robust. We help the community and first responders.
(Hartman) – We think about it holistically as a team. We focus on educational awareness of our employees and strategic partnerships with the community which also meets our business objectives. Our team also practices for earthquakes and other natural disasters.
(Griffin) – IBM is a big company. We have a global and local crisis management team as well as a pandemic team for diseases such as bird flu and Ebola. We conduct table top exercises annually, provide essential support to our clients, and partner with government agencies such as the FBI.

Q: (Paulsen) – What are the keys to the success of P3s?

A: (Guzzon): Give yourself the ability to adapt to a changing environment—be flexible. Think of other things to do in times of disasters [other than the routine activities]. Invest in each other’s success.
(Hartman) – It all comes down to people. Focus on increased networking and the opportunity to connect.
(Griffin) – It’s all about relationships and people. As a corporation, make sure you are essential to what your clients do. Help solve local community problems. Identify critical areas to sustainability. Our guiding principle is “resiliency by design”, i.e. adapt to the local situation. Identify risks and liabilities and what you can do to address those.
(Hartman) – Businesses need resilient communities in order to thrive.
(Guzzon) – We are very customer-centric in California. We keep it simple. We keep the “invite” going.

Q: (Paulsen) – What is it that made you come here [to this conference]?

A: (Guzzon) – It’s personal because we have employees who lost their houses [during the forest fires in California]. We won’t exist if we don’t have stable and safe communities.
A: (Hartman) – We have a long-standing commitment to the community. We need communities in order to thrive.
A: (Griffin) – It’s about giving back to the community. It’s also personally gratifying. The character of a company is not built during good times but during bad times.

Wrap-up (Paulsen) – There is no “one size fits all” for public-private partnerships. We have to be more inclusive and get more involved in joint planning for disasters.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Scott Cotton

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Scott Cotton, who has two upcoming webinars.

Scott Cotton1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?
In 1997 Colorado had a large blizzard that swept across 22 counties and killed 35,800 head of cattle. The response to the blizzard was not ideal; it took about eight weeks to identify the livestock owners and dispose of the mass mortalities. The Animal Emergency Task Force was formed in response to the blizzard; it includes state and federal veterinarians, extension personnel, and brand inspectors. One of the university officials came to us and mentioned that we should get involved with EDEN. Since I had a background in emergency services, they sent me to find out more information. It was the third EDEN meeting, 11 people attended, but it was a helpful experience. When I returned to Colorado we decided to join EDEN, and that I should be the point of contact.

2. You have been with Extension in a few states (Colorado, Nebraska, and now Wyoming)? Have there been variations in the kinds of disasters and the preparedness needs of the people in the areas you have served? What are they?
The areas I work in are predominantly cow-calf, and dry-land farming areas, and it’s been that way in all three states I worked in. I experienced a lot of similarities, the differences are in each state’s structure and how they dovetail together with efforts to educate and develop resilience is dramatically different. In each state, each agency might have completely different roles.

Each state system is different, and yet similar. The reality of extension is continuity across the United States. Each area within the state is also different; my emphasis has always been the rural areas, where there is less readiness but more resilience. This is because ranchers and farmers are very self-sufficient; they are strong on neighboring, and helping each other recover. The drawback is when rural areas experience large disasters their resources are so small they get overwhelmed almost instantly. That’s where my big push has been over the last 20 years; to help livestock producers and farmers become more prepared and resilient.

In 1964, there was a national disaster guideline book sent out to extension offices that mentioned, especially in the western states, after a disaster the sheriff and extension will manage the disaster. A lot of our employees do not realize they may be called upon to respond to a disaster, but the community depends on it. Everything we do has a bearing on our community’s ability to recover.

3. You’ll be co-presenting two webinars this month. Tell us about them.
This month we are doing two webinars, both related to horses and disasters. Over my past 40 years I have had experience as a rural firefighter, EMT, and deputy sheriff. I then moved into extension where our role with responses is actually bigger than some people realize. We often end up assisting or coordinating shelters, evacuation patterns, and finding resources for disasters. I am using some of that experience to present with HorseQuest, an equine specialist group across the United States, two seminars: one targeting horse owners and the second targeting extension personnel. The first webinar will be focused on what owners can do to help their horses survive a disaster. We’ll talk about practice loading horses, having a predetermined evacuation route, having the right information in your horse trailer, having a horse trailer, knowing how to get out under different types of disasters, and more.

The second webinar will be using some of my experiences to help extension professionals. We will talk about experiences in Incident Command System and Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Preparedness Project. We will also talk about when extension professionals might be called upon to help plan disaster evacuation routes, providing educational materials about disasters with horses, including how to assess the impact area of a disaster, how to find where extension best fits into the emergency services role in their community, how to use our resources to help mitigate some disaster to horse owners.

4. As a veteran EDEN delegate, what advice do you have for new delegates?
Build your contact framework, because you will need it! The reality is that when a disaster occurs in your state it is not protocols and paper, it is relationships that help. It is everyone understanding their role, their resources and expertise available, and being ready to interact with each other. The most successful way to do that is to have a comfort level with the other agencies, organizations, and people in the community. Then when something happens there is a trust level, where they know you will help. The communities themselves will always recognize Extension stepping forward and taking an active role.

The people we work with are absolutely amazing. It does not matter if I have a flood and need to call Pat Skinner or Becky Koch, or a disease outbreak and need to call someone, or even after 9/11 when we bounced messages all across the nation. The group works together, they are very much a team even though we are scattered clean across the states, so use that to your advantage.

 

 

If you are interested in the webinar for horse owners (September 16 at 7pm ET) register here.

If you are interested in the webinar for Extension professionals (September 19 at 1 pm ET) register here.

Interview with Dr. Melissa Newman: Oso Mudslide Volunteer Part II

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/ EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed Dr. Melissa Newman to learn about search and rescue dogs and about her experience in Oso. Here is part 2 of Michelle’s interview with EDEN delegate Melissa Newman

How was the Oso mudslide similar or different from other conditions you have worked with your dog?
It was absolutely completely different. There was no way I could have prepared or trained my dogs for that. This mudslide was so much bigger than anything I could explain. There was more than just a little bit of mud. We were talking anywhere between 10-40 feet of mud. There were trees, houses, anything in its way it just pushed, it was said that the winds in front of the mudslide were in excess of 200 mph. They had huge excavators from the lumber companies and they were running everywhere creating noise; I could not have trained that situation, but because of the other training we had given the dogs they were prepared for it. Dog experts say that dogs don’t generalize, but I think you can train them to; when you keep taking them to different rubble piles they start to realize that the conditions don’t matter, they just need to do their job. But the mud was crazy, I sunk at one point all the way up to my chest and it took six men to dig me out because the mud was so deep and thick. These dogs maneuvered over all of this, got stuck in the mud, pulled themselves out. It was absolutely incredible, I was impressed with all of the dogs there, not just mine. There were 20 dogs there sent by FEMA, split into two groups of 10 dogs. I worked with the 10 dogs that were in my group and one dog was as good as another.

FEMA Oso MudslideDid the mud from the slide mess up the dog’s senses? 
Working the slide was actually difficult for the dogs because there were places where the odor did not come straight out. There was a lot of water because the slide rerouted a river, so the dogs would find odor in the water, and they were right, but that was not where we needed to dig. So what we did for the most part was once a dog sensed odor we would send in another dog to better locate a high priority place to dig. It was difficult for the dogs originally because they were not getting rewarded even though they thought they were at source. There was just so many feet of mud, and it rained out there probably 11 or 12 of the 14 days we were there, so the mud never dried; which may have actually helped us because if it had dried it would have made a cast that really would have kept the odor down. It was tough work, and unfortunately because there were so many fatalities that meant there was an odor everywhere. The dogs adjusted to it, but no dog by itself had a find. It was absolutely a team effort. When we went out, there were 12 people missing still, when we left that number was down to two.

With such a large area of debris, how did you focus a search?
They separated the areas geographically. There was a natural break in the mudslide to the east and west, so they split down that. I was assigned with the California Task Force 7, who hosted us. We worked the western side of the slide. They broke it down in grids, so we just worked the dogs in those grids and cleared our portion of it. The other group was assigned to Washington Task Force 1 and worked the same way on the east side. The excavators had their own grid, they would dig to natural surface and then move and dig to natural surface there. What made this a unique deployment is this was the first time that FEMA sent FEMA certified human remains detection dogs, they have used HR dogs before. They also did the first modular deployment ever, which means only handlers and their dogs were sent to Washington, instead of our entire task force. They did this because California Task Force 7 and Washington Task Force 1 were already in place, all they needed more of was handlers and dogs.

I know the conditions in Oso were extreme. How long can a dog successfully work in conditions like that?
It varies. When we went out originally we were working 10-hour days, but they quickly realized they did not want to exhaust all of the dogs at once. So they put us on a rotation where we would either get a morning or an afternoon off every other day. We were working 4-hour shifts, and during those 4 hours the dogs were not going non-stop. On the first few days we did the wide, cover it and screen it, and they got GPS points to focus on from there. Then we came back and targeted those areas. Personally, I would have liked to work my dog more, but the way they handled him he worked very hard and very well. Two things we were concerned about were dehydration and hypothermia. We had to put them in warming tents and make sure they had fluids whenever we were not working.

After seeing the disaster first hand, is there any advice you would give our readers to help recover from a natural disaster like this?
This community was pretty spectacular, they just handled it. This slide took out a major road between two towns,so all they had now was a logging road south of the incident; the day I got there it was a one-lane rough road, and when I left most of it was two lanes and resurfaced. The community was really good about taking care of people, we had thank you notes in our laundry and lunches, there were people that were doing our laundry for free to support us. As a community they knew where their resources were, their fire departments responded immediately. Knowing what resources you have available to you in state is critical. The communities need to know the details of where to get state support before an incident occurs. I can’t see anything that this community could have done differently to help in recovery. They managed their donations really well by documenting when people picked things up. People forget about that, because after a disaster donations will be made, so that raises the need for somewhere and someone to manage the donations. I guess that is a lesson learned for other communities, never underestimate the amount of stuff the community will receive. It truly was an honor to help this community because they are so sad, and if you can help them it’s good to be able to do that.

Didn’t see the first part of the interview? Read it here.

Interview with Dr. Melissa Newman: Oso Mudslide Volunteer Part I

Thanks to University of Kentucky  Point of Contact Andrea Higdon, we learned that Dr.  Melissa Newman and her rescue dog had been deployed to Oso to help find people buried by the mudslide. Melissa is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky and an EDEN delegate. Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed Melissa to learn about search and rescue dogs and about her experience in Oso. Below is part one of  the interview.  

Can you tell us how you first got involved with EDEN, and what your role is?
I have been working with EDEN for about 12 years now. Originally I was just curious, but then I got involved here at the University of Kentucky with Andrea Husband and Roberta Dwyer. We received funding through grants and have not turned back since. We have done an online program and got involved with the S-CAP, Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Preparedness, Project. It just became one neat thing after another. We love working together. It is also one of the passions I have: I am a deputy sheriff, a firefighter and with the task force, so it all fits together.

How did you get involved in search and rescue and why did you get into the human remains detection part of search and rescue?
According to my mother, I have always been interested in canine work. Many years ago, a little kid went missing near my home in the middle of nowhere Kentucky. I offered my assistance since I had endurance horses and could ride trails. They sent me away saying they did not need my help. That is the only search I have ever been on that sent anyone away. So when I got my next dog I sought out a state organization to learn about search and rescue. I did not know whether the dog  or I could do it, but luckily I was gifted with a dog that absolutely loved the work. I started out just doing wilderness search and rescue, which is when a little kid goes missing in the woods you go find them, or so I thought. When the first three finds I had were deceased victims, I started to realize that, at least in Kentucky, people don’t just get lost because there is a McDonald’s within a mile if you walk in a straight line. When people go missing in Kentucky, a lot of times, it is because something bad has happened to them.

My dog was probably 2 years old when I actually started training him to be a human remains detection dog. I certified him through the North American Police Work Dog Association, because at that time all of the human remains detection dogs had to be certified through law enforcement. He was the first of many trained dogs for me. It took a mindset shift, to remind myself that I am now looking for deceased people, but it only took one search for me to recognize that bringing the loved one home is critical to the healing of the family. It is not a pleasant thing to go do, but it really does help the families. I always tell this story to explain where I am coming from: Very early in my career, I went on a search for a drowning victim, the dog and I were in the boat with our life vests on: I look over and see a woman sitting on a dock with her legs crossed, just looking out over the water, the driver of the boat tells me that she is the wife of the man we are looking for. It really hit me that she needed him back, alive would have been much better, but she needed closure. That’s how I started and that’s one of the main reasons why I keep a really good attitude about it, because I am working for the family at that point.

IMG_1012How long have you trained and handled search and rescue dogs? And what breeds do you use?
I have trained and handled these dogs for 15 years. I actually just lost my first dog in December. He was over 15 years old. I predominantly use German Shepherds, but for my Federal Emergency Management Agency, live-find work, I have a Labrador and a Dutch Shepherd, because to do the work for FEMA they have to be so athletic and over the top ready to work; they can’t be affected by the environment. I go with the best dog, not necessarily the best breed, but I am biased to German Shepherds because I love them. The traditional FEMA dog is a live-find dog. It was not until August of last year (2013) that FEMA allowed task forces to have human remains detection dogs. This was because FEMA’s objective was to get there very quickly and find everyone alive and save them. But they realized when they’re coming in days after an event occurs they still need to help in the recovery process so the community can move on.

Can you give a detailed description of how your dog does its job?
They work by smelling the air. My job is to get him in a position to have the wind blown to him, much like a bird dog works. We refer to this as air scent search dogs, as opposed to a traditional tracking dog, which a lot of people think of as a bloodhound with his nose on the ground. My dogs work off-lead. Most of the time they work without collars because we are sending them into hazardous conditions and don’t want them to get hung up on anything. We’ll send them into the area, they’ll cover the area smelling the wind and if they detect the presence of human remains, they will go to that location and get as absolutely as close as they can. We train them nose to source. The closeness is really critical in law enforcement, but we use it for disaster dogs also. They get to that point and then bark until the handler gets there to say good boy. My dogs are working towards a paycheck of a toy, different dogs have different rewards but I have found toys work best for them. Some people try to reward with food, the problem with that is that, at some disasters there are people’s kitchens with refrigerators full of food so the dog will eat while working, and not get a lot of work done. With my dogs, they know that I am the one that has his toy, so he has to find something for me to reward him.

Today’s Focus: MO COAD Guidance Manual

According to EDEN chair Rick Atterberry, “The November 17th [2013] tornadoes demonstrated the need for more and more effective COADs [Community Organizations Active in Disaster] in Illinois. While agencies did a commendable job in response and early recovery, there is no question some time was lost as they figured out their roles on the fly. Robust COADs would have been of great value.”

In his role as past president of Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Steve Cain reiterated the need for establishing COADs, “With back-to-back disasters, emergency managers in Indiana have discovered that communities with COADs are much better at recovery. COADs take work off of emergency managers’ plates, especially in response and recovery.”

One of last year’s Smith-Lever Special Needs Grant Program awards went to the University of Missouri to test the the second edition  (introductory presentation) of Stack of papers with reading glasses and a cup of coffeeMissouri’s Community Organizations Active in Disaster  (COAD) Guidance Manual. EDEN delegate Conne Burnham leads the project.

The first manual was developed in 2002 by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency to assist local communities in the development of COADs. Since then, major changes in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy and direction have occurred. FEMA’s current strategic plan (FY 2011-2014) includes a mission to ensure resilience to disasters. COADs are part of a resilient community.

The revised COAD Guidance Manual reflects that focus. The guide provides direction to local volunteer organizations and their emergency management agency offices in ways to establish local emergency human services for people in communities.  It was tested in three states (MO, IL, and IN) using a tabletop exercise delivered via webinars. Following the webinars, Burnham noted, “Many of the webinar attendees were from COADs and nongovernmental organizations that respond to disaster. Local emergency management did not get engaged unless the COAD did. The ones who attended gave it kudos.”

Burnham also noted that COADs and EMA offices will use the guide but may not completely follow it because there is so much content. Rather, they will probably add sections to their emergency operations plans as they need and can support them.

If you are interested in seeing the COAD Guidance Manual, please contact  Dante Gliniecki at the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Human Services section.

Beverly Samuel  is NIFA liaison to EDEN and NIFA contact for the Smith Lever Special Needs Program. Last year’s solicitation opened April 24 and had a closing date of May 31 with an estimated program funding total of $462,000.

Be ready when the 2014 call for proposals is announced!

Lessons from the Storm: Case Studies on Economic Recovery and Resilience

Downtown Cullman, AL following 2011 tornadoToday’s post is written by Megan McConville. She manages the National Association of  Development Organization (NADO) disaster recovery and resilience program. We (Rick Atterberry, Steve Cain, Abby Hostetler and Virginia White)  met Megan during a recent visit to Washington, D.C.  You can contact her at mmcconville@nado.org

In 2008, a series of storms—including Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and several tornadoes—swept across Arkansas.  Seventy-two of the state’s 75 counties were affected one or more times over the course of the year.  Only three Arkansas counties escaped Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declarations in 2008.[i]  Hurricane Gustav made landfall as only a Category 2 storm, but it hung over the south-central United States for days and inundated the region with tremendous amounts of water.  Hurricane Ike, the third-costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the U.S., followed just two weeks later, spawning 13 tornadoes in Arkansas over a three-day period.[ii]

As the storms subsided and the floods receded, communities were left with the daunting tasks of cleaning up and repairing damaged infrastructure.  Bridges and culverts needed replacing, roads needed resurfacing, and drainage ditches needed clearing.  What’s more, this series of natural disasters made it clear to state, regional, and local leaders that businesses are tremendously vulnerable to extreme weather.  They can suffer costly damage, be cut off from supply lines, lose sales, and experience interrupted operations.  In some cases, they may even be forced to close permanently.  When businesses and industries fail or falter, the communities they serve can feel serious impacts, ranging from the lack of access to goods and services to the loss of income and jobs.

“Ike and Gustav had huge effects on our infrastructure, our businesses, and the health of our state and regional economies,” says Renee Dycus, the executive director of the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District (SWAPDD).  “After the storms, we were getting calls from some local elected officials, but in the chaos of the recovery process, they had so little time to figure out what assistance was available and ask for it.  We would have liked to have had good baseline information to help us identify needs—especially the needs of the small businesses that play such an important role in the economy of rural Arkansas communities—and reach out proactively to local government and business partners.”[iii]

In response to this need, SWAPDD—one of Arkansas’ eight regional planning and development districts—used disaster recovery funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to develop a comprehensive database of information on the employers and infrastructure in the region.  The database will help southwest Arkansas recover from future disasters much faster and more effectively, as it establishes a baseline for the region’s economy which can be overlaid with geographic information about a disaster’s impacts—such as floods and tornado tracks—to immediately estimate the number of affected businesses and employees, identify damage, and mobilize repair and assistance efforts.  SWAPDD is also using it to identify potential federal and state funding opportunities for local partners, submit applications, request letters of support for projects, and fill out environmental review and other forms with the touch of a button.

Want to know how SWAPDD created such a great tool?  Check out the new case study series from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation, titled Lessons from the Storm: Case Studies on Economic Recovery and Resilience.  The series highlights how regional development organizations have used 2008 disaster recovery funds from EDA to address the impacts of natural disasters, become more resilient to future events, and increase long-term economic competitiveness and quality of life in their regions.  SWAPDD’s story is posted there, and more case studies are coming soon.

NADO is a national membership association that provides advocacy, capacity-building, and research services for the network of over 500 regional planning and development organizations across the U.S.  Regional planning and development organizations—known locally as regional planning commissions, councils of governments, area development districts, or similar terms—play a key role in community and economic development, transportation planning, business development finance, technology and telecommunications, workforce development, GIS analysis, and other issues important to their local government partners.

Disaster recovery and resilience is a key area of work for the NADO Research Foundation and for our members.  Along with Lessons from the Storm, we are collaborating with the International Economic Development Council to provide training, technical assistance, and best practice research on economic resilience for communities and regions in the northeast and southeast that were affected by disasters during fiscal year 2011.  We have hosted several peer-to-peer workshops on disaster preparedness and recovery and have produced reports and policy briefs on topics such as integrating hazard mitigation planning, sustainable community development approaches, and economic development strategies; transportation system recovery; and frameworks for regional development organizations to use in preparing and responding to economic shocks.  Additionally, we are helping our members incorporate disaster resilience into their EDA-required Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies and other regional plans.

Severe weather and climate change have become costly and unpredictable parts of our lives.  However, local leaders can learn a lot from each other about planning for disasters during so-called “blue-sky” periods, building partnerships, pursuing non-traditional funding sources, encouraging community engagement, and seizing the abundant opportunities to build back better following an event.  By sharing stories and strategies neighbor-to-neighbor, across networks like EDEN, and through case studies and other online resources, we can be better prepared the next time the storm clouds gather.

 


[i]EDA Disaster Response and Preparedness Plan. University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute for Economic Advancement. 2010. http://iea.ualr.edu/pubs/2010/10-04%20EDA_DRPP.pdf.

[ii] Hurricane Ike Impact Report. Federal Emergency Management Agency. 2008. http://www.fema.gov/pdf/hazard/hurricane/2008/ike/impact_report.pdf.

[iii] Dycus, Renee. Personal interview. June 17, 2013.

Recommended Viewing: From the County Up: Toward a 2030 Vision of Disaster Resilience

Post by Julie Smith, UVM Extension Dairy Specialist and Chair, EDEN Agrosecurity Program Area Work Group (PAWG)

I attended a webinar on disaster resilience conducted by the National Association of Counties (NACo) on March 27, 2013. The speakers presented an overview of the findings and recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences report, Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative. Local resilience and community engagement are priorities of NACo in the year ahead.

Cameron, LA 5-20-06 FEMA asbestos Inspectors, George Legere, Walter Coleman Jr, and Rocky Craigen check this house for asbestos the Hurricane Rita Damaged. FEMA is checking every house to be demolished for asbestos which may be in roof shingles and insulation, before demolition. Marvin Nauman/FEMA photo
Marvin Nauman/FEMA photo

 What is this vision of resiliency? “In 2030, the nation, from individuals to the highest levels of government, has embraced a “culture of resilience.” Information on risks and vulnerability to individuals and communities is transparent and easily accessible to all. Proactive investments and policy decisions including those for preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery have reduced the loss of lives, costs, and socioeconomic impacts of disasters. Community coalitions are widely organized, recognized, and supported to provide essential services before and after disasters occur. Recovery after disasters is rapid and includes funding from private capital. The per capita federal cost of responding to disasters has been declining for a decade.” (p. 14)

In the NAS report, resilience is defined as the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events (p. 16).  In a world with seemingly increasing numbers of adverse events, it is important to understand disaster risk. Disaster risk comprises four elements: hazard, exposure, vulnerability, and consequence. Ask yourself how you can help your local emergency managers assess hazards and reduce vulnerability in your community.

Additional resources

  • The webinar is available. Enter your email and you will be able to view the recording.
  • The NAS report can be downloaded for free from the National Academies Press site.
  • In July, NACo published a Hot Topics County News Special Edition on resiliency. You will find in this edition many great articles and links to useful information pertinent to building resiliency at the county level.

Centers for Disease Control — Drought and Human Health

The Centers for Disease Control have a link with information on health issues related to the drought.  Information included on this web page is water, air quality, food and nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, recreational risks, infectious disease, chronic disease, and diseases transmitted by animals and insects.

Kim Cassel

EDEN Drought Team

As Seasonal Drought Outlook (below) shows peristence and intensification of the drought over much of the country through the end of the year, I share with you the leadership of  the newly formed Drought NEIL (National EDEN Issue Leader) Team.  The team is charged with the development of  sustainable EDEN and EDEN eXtension drought preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation research based resources.  Working from a Logic Model, we will be building on the excellent resources shared by Extension Specialists and County Extension Educators.

 

University Who Email Phone
South Dakota State University E. Kim Cassel Kim.cassel@sdstate.edu  605-696-7873
University of Tennessee Tim Prather tprather@tennessee.edu  865-974-7266
University of Kentucky Tom Priddy Priddy@uky.edu  859-257-3000 ext 245
Auburn University Virginia Morgan morgamv@auburn.edu  334-844-5699
Purdue University Steve Cain cain@purdue.edu 765-494-8410
Louisiana State University Pat Skinner pskinner@agcenter.lsu.edu 225-578-2910
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Rick Atterberry ratterbe@illinois.edu 217-244-2828
University of Missouri Bev Maltsberger MaltsbergerB@missouri.edu  816-279-1691
University of Minnesota Phyllis Onstad onsta003@umn.edu 507-796-6008
University of Missouri Sherry Nelson NelsonS@missouri.edu 573-769-2177
Oregon State University Lynette Black lynette.black@oregonstate.edu 541-296-5494
University of Arkansas Deborah Tootle dtootle@uaex.edu 501-671-2228
South Dakota State University Alvaro Garcia Alvaro.garcia@sdstate.edu  605-688-5488
University of Nebraska – Lincoln Rick Koelsch rkoelsch1@unl.edu 402-472-2966
NIFA/USDA Bill Hoffman whoffman@NIFA.USDA.GOV 202-401-1112

 

Kim Cassel

 

Whole Community

Last December, and following a national dialogue, FEMA published its new initiative, A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management: Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action. You can read the entire document or read the highlights here.

The folks at Homeland Security Watch are thinking about the initiative and how a whole community approach will/should look if the entire community is to really be engaged in its disaster preparedness. See this post for an interesting perspective.

What does it take to engage the whole community?