Saturday, June 1, 2013

...and Hurricane Season is upon us

As if the non-stop tornados, heavy rains, flooding, red flag warnings, and general misery mother nature is throwing at us at the moment wasn't marks the beginning of a 5 month period known as Hurricane season -- joy.

Hurricane Prep Week Topics
With the build up and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy still fresh in the minds of those in the mid-atlantic region where repair and rebuild activities are just beginning to hit their stride, Hurricane Season is an unwelcome reminder of still healing wounds.

And while the peak month of August is still 60 days away, FEMA and local emergency management agencies spent the last 7 days reinforcing best practices in preparation for what NOAA is forecasting to be an above average season for Hurricane activity.

Given the prep, the forecasting, the grant dollars available, and cyclical nature that the next 5 months represents...why aren't at risk states better prepared? I ask because during Hurricane Isaac, a storm that made landfall 7 years to the day, more or less in the same areas where Hurricane Katrina made landfall, areas where there should've been a plan forged in the chaos and horrible tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina, was disarray and confusion. There was uncertainty around roles and responsibilities, around the best ways to coordinate response activities, and an overwhelming sense of disbelief.

Disasters by their nature are confusing, chaotic, and stressful...but with the seemingly endless practice that the emergency management community is getting, and ultimately the opportunities to share what's working and what's not via: conferences, papers,, and picking up the phone and talking to someone who's gone through it, it isn't a herculean leap to want to see improvements.

I know that disaster response doesn't follow a linear progression and that the best laid plans are often tossed aside because the [insert disaster type here] doesn't adhere to the construct of the plan. With that said, we've been doing this long enough that instituting some sort of benchmarking system to measure response and recovery could be created. Not to shame or chastise, but to learn what works for a particular community and grow it, integrate it into future planning to help mitigate the threat of a groundhog day scenario as communities stare down the next 5 months of potential Hurricane activity.

It's not all doom and gloom, some communities are adapting and adopting mechanisms that will allow for the tracking and sharing of a detailed recovery plan. The Recovery Diva posted this re: The Joplin recovery; lots of good information here and I encourage you to read the fact sheet, a great tool and template I hope other communities adopt...communities that may be facing the daunting task of picking up the pieces following a similar situation now and in the future.

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