Resilience in our Communities

Resilience in our Communities

On the evening of May 4, 2007, Greensburg, Kansas was devastated by a powerful tornado that leveled approximately 95 percent of the city, killing twelve people. Prior to the storm the area had experienced years of economic decline and the tornado was crushing to the community.

Resilience within our communities is the foundation for disaster recovery. Resilience is one of three key concepts created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) along with “Security” and “Customs and Exchange.” Resilience is the result of community preparedness and awareness in advance of a security threat or disaster. A resilient community has prepared community members, an action plan and the infrastructure for rapid recovery.

Resilience is included as a key component of DHS policy to ensure that if a disaster affects an area it does not permanently destroy the life and wellbeing of that community in the long term. Greensburg, Kansas was totally unprepared for this catastrophic event.  Preparing individuals and families for what to do in the event of an emergency saves lives. By promoting preparedness events to educate the community, developing family plans, and working to prepare homes the twelve lives that were lost could have possibly been saved. However Greensburg took this terrible tragedy and truly demonstrated resilience in recovering from the losses the town experienced. In the wake of this event the city council passed a resolution stating that all city buildings would be rebuilt to meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) standards. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, which provides verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve environmental performance and energy efficiency. This resolution made Greensburg first city in the nation to hold itself to such high environmental standards.

To support community resilience, DHS coordinates closely with Federal Government partners and local communities. Through close cooperation with all Federal partners, DHS closes gaps and collaborates on the most critical objectives required for disaster preparedness and recovery. The impact of catastrophes is most devastating at the community level. As a part of DHS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an integral role in creating resilient communities. FEMA developed extensive national initiatives to improve existing disaster preparedness capabilities.

FEMA must continue to expand and modernize its resilient community approach. As an example, FEMA should increase outreach and communication with non-traditional stakeholders such as community leaders with faith-based communities, universities/colleges, students, and fraternal associations.  A broad platform of support strengthens resilience and FEMA’s message. To reach a larger audience, FEMA will need to promote expanded methods of communication such as social media (Twitter, Facebook), youth programs, and community events. A bottom up approach while expanding stakeholders strengthens the resilience message and allows individuals to be more engaged and prepared in the face of a disaster.

Contributors

* Arc Aspicio | Arc Aspicio is an information technology and management consulting company that focuses on homeland security and intelligence. Our services include strategy and planning, business architecture, strategic communications, mission/technology alignment, information technology, and program management. Arc Aspicio is building a community that promotes collaboration, continuous learning, innovation, and intelligence to improve homeland security. For more information, please visit www.arcaspicio.com.

Contact Information
Lynn Ann Casey / Chief Executive Officer
info@arcaspicio.com
703.465.2060

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