This toolkit from Enterprise Community Partners equips multifamily affordable building owners and managers with a business continuity plan to address disaster and crisis.
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Disaster readiness is the ability to prepare and plan for, and help absorb, recover from or more successfully adapt to adverse events. The best way to avoid loss of life or property is to be prepared before a natural disaster hits. It is never too early for a community to prepare, and it is up to important players like local government and nonprofits to develop clear plans of action. Whether your region is prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, snowstorms, or flooding, there are steps that you as an organization can take right now to make you and your communities more resilient to disasters.
Readiness starts at the local level with planners, developers and municipal leaders who review and consider what they will do in terms of permitting or zoning and demolition in the aftermath of a natural disasters. Local government can be prepared by instituting stricter building codes that protect structures and reduce insurance and long-term costs. It can also help to elevate buildings away from bodies of water to gird them against flooding, construct buildings with impact resistant windows to avoid damage from hurricane-force winds, and keep defensible space around buildings to stop wildfires from spreading. In addition, zoning can be used to prevent new residences from being placed in disaster-prone areas. Well-enforced building codes can mitigate financial losses and property damage expenses.1
Above all, it is the responsibility of community groups and nonprofits to proactively plan for their own organizations. As leaders in your rural communities, you know the challenges that come with remote geographies and low populations. As you look towards being more disaster resilient, it is important that you are proactive about building your internal resources and your networks with local and statewide coalitions to ensure you are adequately prepared in the event a disaster hits.
Jim Garrett, Acting Individual Assistance Officer, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, covers the phases of a disaster event, introduces new terminology, and shares how local housing groups can be a partner in disaster recovery work.
Emergencies can happen at any time to any organization. They can range from natural disasters to loss of crucial staff, damage to computer systems, and business interruption. Organizations in rural areas are at a disadvantage because these areas tend to lack infrastructure and adequate communication systems, have limited first responders and municipal staff, and have inadequate accessible and affordable housing for displaced families and individuals.
Is your organization ready for a disaster? Download HAC’s guide to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery and start building a more resilient organization.
By Karl Ory
Last November 8, sparks from a utility line were fanned into a firestorm that engulfed 153,000 acres and burned 13,000 houses in the communities of Paradise, Concow, Magalia and Butte Creek Canyon in Butte County, CA. It was the state’s largest disaster since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Residents fled, but 85 didn’t make it. As the smoke covered northern California for weeks, residents of Sacramento and San Francisco donned masks and breathed Paradise smoke.
Disaster preparedness starts with you! Local organizations are the backbone of a community, and so making sure your organization is disaster-ready is an important first step. These resources provide instructions on how to create an emergency plan, back-up your organization’s data and files, and conduct self-assessment of your organization’s disaster preparedness.
Doing a self-assessment of your organization’s disaster preparedness is the first step to readiness. This means taking stock of your organization’s deficiencies and needs and creating an action plan to fill in those gaps. The following resource is meant to get you started; feel free to use the template provided, or create your own.
Managing your organization’s finances is a critical step in disaster preparedness. The Small Business Administration and the Internal Revenue Service both provide useful guides for managing your budget, protecting key financial documents, and itemizing valuables in preparation for a disaster.
When a disaster hits, you want to make sure your organization’s data and files are protected. It’s a good idea to keep a hard drive copy of important documents, but we also recommend backing up your files to the cloud.
By Howard A. Kunst
Most areas across the country are subject to one or more natural catastrophe perils and rural areas are no exception. Flood, wildfire, hail and wind can and do affect these communities and result in devastating property damage and tragic loss of life, especially if a community and its residents are unprepared.
The smaller populations of rural areas necessitates building strong networks to collaborate and coordinate across sectors and organizations. As an organization, you can also help your community prepare by building your organizational network and keeping in mind cultural dynamics and power differentials to ensure all community members are served equitably.2 Developing these networks of support before a natural disaster hits makes it possible to plan proactively and be more efficient in the aftermath.3 Use the resources below as a checklist to ensure your community is involved with your local VOAD or COAD and that they have a community disaster plan in place.
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) are networks of organizations at the state and county level with the capacity to help communities prepare for or respond to natural disasters. The following are resources for organizations interested in getting in touch with or becoming part of their local VOAD/COAD movement.
Having a disaster guide for your organization is important, but you also want to make sure the community has a plan in place. Start by checking whether your regional or local planning commission has already created a community disaster plan, or use the templates provided to create one.
Create a disaster committee to jumpstart conversations between community stakeholders about disaster preparedness. A disaster committee could be a means to share resources or exchange knowledge, and it could also be an opportunity to get residents involved in prepping their community for a disaster.
Many community-based organizations use social media to keep in touch with community members. Social media outlets can be used to inform the public about your disaster preparedness resources, or to share critical information if your community experiences a natural disaster.
By Representative Cindy Axne
During March 2019 in Iowa and the Great Plains, record snowfall and freezing temperatures clogged waterways with ice. Rapid warming from March 12 to 14, along with rain from a “bomb cyclone” that swept across the Midwest, led to massive flooding and devastation along the Missouri River, including southwest Iowa. Towns like Hamburg and Pacific Junction were entirely underwater.
Emergencies can happen at any time to any organization.
Is your organization prepared to respond?
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