19 min read

Disaster Preparedness: How Local Governments Build Resilient Communities

By GovPilot
 

As the days grow hotter and we enter summer, we are also entering prime disaster season. Preparation is absolutely critical. So is knowing how to ensure an effective recovery.

Flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes pose a threat to municipalities across the U.S. as climate change is quickly making disasters unpredictable and causing them to occur in places with no prior history of disaster. Slower, wetter hurricanes like Harvey now bring heavier rainfall and flooding along with severe winds. A prolonged drought in the west is causing concern for an earlier start to another intense wildfire season. Hurricane Sandy making landfall in New Jersey at the end of October, creating a need for temporary shelter for thousands in the northeast into November and the winter. This year, a winter ice storm knocked out power across Texas. The list goes on.

Long-term disaster preparedness is a must for local governments. With hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, wildfires and other ecological disasters now occurring more frequently and often in places with no prior record of such disasters, it is your obligation as a local government leader to ensure that your constituents are prepared and resilient before a disaster, kept safe during one, and that your community can make an efficient, predictable, timely recovery in the aftermath of a natural disaster. 

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Unfortunately, many municipalities do not have a game plan for local emergency management that encompasses pre-disaster resilience and long-term rebuilding and recovery. Most solely have a short-term emergency response strategy. 

The reality is that disasters do not end after flood waters recede and the news crews and their cameras pack up and leave. Recovery is a complicated and expensive process that continues years after national attention turns elsewhere. Inefficient recovery can have devastating impacts on individuals, families, businesses and local economies if poorly executed. 

Follow along for useful resources and tips to plan your modern disaster management strategy, so that you can respond to crises quickly and expedite the long recovery process for your community with an emergency preparedness plan.

To help, we've partnered with SBP, a national disaster resilience and recovery nonprofit organization headquartered in New Orleans with ongoing rebuilding and local government advisory operations across several states. 

What is Emergency Preparedness?

As the name implies, emergency preparedness - critical for disaster resilience - is the process of planning ahead for inevitable natural disasters like flooding, hurricane, tornadoes, wildfires etc. A viable local emergency management plan should consider pre-disaster mitigation efforts, preparation of constituents and employees, the immediate response to a natural disaster, and a long term recovery plan. 

Typically, an emergency preparedness plan is broken down into four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, every $1 spent on mitigation and preparedness saves $6 in recovery costs. With a new report showing that Intensifying rainfall fueled by climate change has caused nearly $75 billion in flood damage alone in the U.S. over the past three decades, it is clear just how critical disaster preparedness and resilience are to American municipalities.

When it comes to disasters, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

What are the Four Phases of Emergency Preparedness?

1. Mitigation

FEMA describes mitigation as, “actions taken to reduce the cause, impact, and consequences of disasters.” 

Depending on where you are located and which natural disasters are likely to occur, mitigation could mean physical changes to the built environment such as:

  • Updating building codes to modern standards which enable structures and homes to withstand winds up to 130 miles per hour - covering category two and three hurricanes. 
  • Encouraging the use of ground anchors, roof straps, and sealed roof decks to keep municipal buildings and local homes protected from intense winds and driving rain.
  • Constructing new disaster resilient infrastructure or upgrading existing infrastructure to sustain high winds, water, and heat. 
  • Instructing your Department of Public Works to utilize permeable pavement when re-surfacing roads, parking lots, and driveways.
  • Including natural mitigation, by protecting existing wetlands so they continue to serve as natural flood water absorption. 
  • Creating floodable parks that will become a water retention area during a flood.  
  • Educating and encouraging all property owners to carry flood insurance in addition to home/business insurance. Flood insurance can be acquired for as little as $3 per day.

Insurance is an essential component of mitigation. Homeowners should carry both homeowner insurance and flood insurance. Homeowner insurance only covers the contents of a home but does NOT cover the expensive structural damage caused by a flood or fire. Similarly, local businesses should carry flood insurance. 

However, many homeowners in high-risk areas still don’t have flood insurance because federal flood maps that guide insurance demand are often outdated and fail to factor in the impacts of climate change and intense rainfall. And minority communities in the U.S. tend to have a larger undisclosed flood risk.

Many recent major floods have occurred outside of official flood zones, devastating communities where home and business owners did not have flood insurance and therefore could not afford to rebuild out of their own pocket. Lack of proper insurance coverage among constituents can cause undue strain on local governments who will need to adequately serve those who cannot rebuild, and can prolong the recovery by years while constituents unable to rebuild suffer physically, mentally, and financially. 

As a local leader it is important to understand your municipality’s risks, communicate them regularly, and encourage proper insurance coverage and mitigation efforts among constituents and governmental departments. The new Infrastructure Bill may be the key to providing local governments with the funds to much needed infrastructure repairs and upgrades. 

2. Preparedness

Being proactive with a well planned mitigation strategy is just the first step. Preparing your government’s employees and citizens is critical to ensuring your local government’s business continuity, the safety of community members, and an effective recovery. 

Local governments can help constituents prepare for disaster through consistent education and communication. Your preparedness plan should include asset mapping on your public facing GIS map to include emergency sites such as hospitals, shelters, police departments, and fire stations. Where possible your map should also include pre-designated evacuation routes and rally points if you intend to provide public transportation during an evacuation.

Local governments should also make available critical information and resources to constituents about how to effectively prepare for disaster and the steps to take in order to recover efficiently. The national disaster resilience and recovery non-profit, SBP, whose mission is to shrink time between disaster and recovery, has compiled a comprehensive, easy to use library of critical pre and post-disaster resources for home and business owners. The resources, including eLearning courses, videos, and PDF guides can found at sbpprotects.org can be shared on your government website or distributed physically as appropriate. 

By ensuring employees and constituents know what to do in the event of a disaster and how to reduce their risk local governments can help enable an efficient recovery.

3. Response

Once a disaster does occur, it is vital to respond quickly and efficiently. Leverage your preparation efforts by setting your action plan into motion to protect your community members and prevent further damage to physical infrastructure.

Typically emergency managers and first responders will drive the response and immediate relief phase which includes search and rescue, and intake at shelters. For the most part local governments are well-versed and trained on the “response” phase. 

Critically important in the response and later in the recovery phase, is the tracking of all disaster related expenditures so that your government can apply for reimbursement by FEMA. GovPilot has designed a comprehensive, unified FEMA expense tracking system so that all departments can input their expenses in real-time, in order to deliver one comprehensive, detailed expenditure report to FEMA.

4. Recovery

Once a disaster passes and the sky turns blue again, homes and businesses won’t be repaired overnight due to the complexity of America’s framework for delivering federal, state, and local disaster recovery assistance. In fact, recoveries usually take months or years to complete. Decisions made by local leaders early on in the recovery can have a massive impact on the length, predictability, and cost of the overall recovery.

If your community is impacted by a disaster, consider contacting the non-profit, SBP for advisory services. SBP’s government services team is composed of state and local recovery leaders who have built and operated some of the fastest and most productive recovery programs for disaster-impacted communities across the country, including the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office.

As a local official, it is important to understand that the total Federal assistance amount your municipality eventually receives from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) via a Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) will be directly correlated to the number of maximum FEMA assistance awards ($33,000) provided to homeowners in your community. 

Many homeowners after a disaster are understandably distraught and therefore either do not apply for FEMA assistance or settle for less than the full amount - even if their property has incurred significant damage. These funds are designed to provide temporary relief to property owners - paying for temporary shelter such as a motel, or to replace clothes and food, or for contractor muck-and-gut - not to rebuild the property. However the Federal government determines state and local relief based on the number of maximum FEMA awards, so it is incumbent upon local government leadership to help those in their community navigate the FEMA process to get the maximum award.

To that end SBP has created a number of easy to understand guides which you can share with constituents.

What Natural Disasters Should Your Community Be Prepared For?

Depending on where your municipality is in the United States, the types of natural disasters your community might be at risk of may vary. That said, climate change is causing disasters in places with no prior history of such disasters. Take for example the Iowa derecho which caused massive damage, the Texas winter storm, or Hurricane Sandy which devastated the northeast. 

 

Here are some of the most common natural disasters that can disrupt your community:

Flooding

Flooding is the most costly and most common disaster risk to American communities.

The National Flood Insurance Program communicates risk in terms of 100- and 500-year floodplains (areas with a 1% and 0.2% annual probability of flooding, respectively). But these are not accurate predictors of risk. Since 2005, more than 30% of flood damage has occurred in areas outside the mandatory flood insurance zone. After Hurricane Harvey, roughly 80% of homes that flooded were outside mandatory flood zones.

Flooding due to extreme precipitation is historically one of the most deadly natural disasters, and can disrupt and destroy an entire community’s infrastructure quickly. Floods are especially concerning because they are increasingly common even in areas with no prior history. While flood zones are based on historical flood history, they do not take into account more recent data like sea level rise, average precipitation increases, or changes to geography including development (where a marsh becomes a parking lot for example). 

Because of this, many properties that are considered outside the 100-year flood zone and 500-year flood zone, might actually be at risk of flooding. Properties within flood zones are mandated to carry flood insurance. However this leaves many more properties outside of these historic flood zones at-risk and uninsured. 

For local governments, mitigation techniques should include avoiding on-site servers for data storage (so important government data won’t get destroyed by water), strategic zoning and planning, implementation build resilience strategies, and the acquisition of flood insurance. Lastly, local governments should provide preparedness training to employees and constituents.

SBP eLearning: Do I Need Flood Insurance?

Hurricanes

What were once considered “once-in-a-lifetime” storms are seemingly occurring on a yearly basis, particularly in the southeast and gulf coast.

Training constituents on hurricane preparedness (an evacuation plan, alternate routes to safety, proper construction of an emergency kit, survival kits and go-bags, and general best practices) are some of the best ways to mitigate the damage of a devastating hurricane. 

Local governments in areas at risk of hurricanes, flooding, and tornadoes should also consider updating construction standards and retrofitting buildings. According to Roy Wright - the CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and the former Chief Executive of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program - homes are currently being constructed at the fastest rate since 2006 but are unfortunately being built in largely the same fashion as they were 30 years ago — despite a massive, climate-driven surge in the number of natural disasters we face each year. Local governments can mitigate damage by raising building code standards.

The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) is a terrific resource to better understand fortified building codes for all disaster types.

SBP eLearning: Navigating Disaster Assistance

Wildfires

In the western U.S., wildfires ravage communities on a yearly basis. Ongoing droughts continue to make fire season longer and more intense and destructive each year. In order to prepare for and mitigate the threat posed by wildfire, communities in high risk areas should consider removing dry debris like dead trees and bushes, and leaves to ensure that a fire won’t quickly spread, encourage the use of flame resistant materials in all construction, and properly train residents in evacuation procedures and routes.

SBP eLearning: Prepare and Protect Yourself from Wildfires

Tornadoes 

Across the south eastern and central United States, Tornadoes pose a serious risk for municipalities. In order to prepare for tornadoes and mitigate damage, consider building wind-resistant infrastructure, retrofitting buildings to include wind-resistant roofing, encourage constituents to have the proper insurance coverage, and educate constituents on the best practices for how to react if a tornado does occur.

SBP eLearning: Tornadoes - Preparing for the Unexpected

How Can a Local Government Take Action Before an Emergency Takes Place?

It’s better to be proactive than reactive. Being comprehensive and exhaustive in the mitigation and preparedness phases of the emergency management plan is vital for a local government, and can save lives and dollars should a disaster strike.

Here are just a few ways to improve disaster management in your community before an emergency occurs:

1. Ensure Business Continuity with Cloud-Based Government Management Software

Switching from on-site servers to cloud-based storage of government data is not only cost effective and secure, but also a smart way to mitigate damage from a natural disaster and ensure the continuity of government operations and services.

Imagine if in addition to losing homes and municipal buildings, servers critical to operations and the storage of vital government data were also destroyed. Vital government data, including data and information needed to plan an efficient recovery would be lost forever, significantly setting back rebuilding efforts and the ability to receive federal relief funding. With a unified cloud-based platform such as GovPilot, government employees will be able access the platform and complete work remotely - long distance if needed - from anywhere at any time, ensuring business continuity and service delivery for your government.

Doing so will require that employees are equipped with mobile devices including laptops and tablets, but with a login to GovPilot, employees can access the platform on any device including personal laptops and even cell phones in order to complete work.

Leveraging cloud-based government management software will ensure that despite the hardship that comes with a natural disaster, the loss of government data, operations, and services won’t be one of the casualties.

2.  Notify Constituents with GIS Mapping

Leveraging a geographic information system (GIS) map is a great way to inform constituents and help them better understand risks and how their municipality has prepared for disaster. Public facing digital mapping software will allow community members to see an accurate view of the entire municipality down to the parcel level. GovPilot users can quickly generate mail merge lists of all properties within given flood zones so that notices to acquire flood insurance, and other resources can easily be mailed to property owners and residents living in areas of risk. 

Government employees can use a GIS map to flag areas considered potentially hazardous like a flood zone or a road closure, and map physical assets like shelters, hospitals, police and fire stations, and predetermined evacuation routes. Post-disaster, municipal officials can utilize GIS maps to assess damage and better understand impacted properties, areas, and needs.

In the case that an emergency does occur, updates can be made to the map in real time so that constituents are aware of where the emergency has occurred in their neighborhood. What better way to ensure that community members avoid downed wires or flooded streets?

GovPilot GIS map of Manasquan, NJ

3. Regular Communication With Constituents 

While the local government has an integral role in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters, community members also play a role in the pre-emergency phases, as well as in the recovery. Individual constituent preparedness prior to a disaster is critical to community resilience. Likewise, well-informed constituents who have been impacted by disaster are more likely to make better decisions after disaster, such as properly applying for FEMA assistance and ensuring that they are not fleeced by a contractor - a major problem that impacts long-term recovery. 

Communication between the municipal government and constituents is a vital component of emergency management planning. 

Here are some ways you can leverage communication with community members for emergency preparedness:

  • Recruit an emergency preparedness team: encourage community members to join a local volunteer group that helps prepare for and respond to natural disasters. These individuals can serve as trainers, volunteer leaders, staff shelter sites, bring lost animals to animal shelters, and help to reunite lost family members.
  • Host disaster training: educating your constituents will go a long way toward increasing community resilience before disaster, and speeding recovery post-disaster.  Provide disaster training to inform citizens on how to respond to the varying types of natural disasters, and have attendees relay the information to their friends and family.

The pre-disaster resources from SBP are a great place to start. 

  • Online emergency preparedness resources: create and post insightful guides on your website describing the best practices for preparing for different types of natural disasters, and the specific plans your community has in place such as emergency shelter locations and evacuation routes.
  • Encourage constituents to obtain proper insurance: educate constituents on the importance of acquiring proper insurance coverage including flood insurance so that they are covered in the case of an emergency. Make sure they are aware that having home insurance does NOT mean they’re covered for water damage during a flood or hurricane.
  • Have notification systems in place: in the event of an impending storm or the aftermath of a disaster, notify community members with an emergency notification via pre-recorded phone message, email, social media, or push notification so that they have time to prepare, evacuate, or follow further instructions if needed.
  • Understand unmet needs: Understand unmet needs: after a disaster it is inevitable that members of your community will not receive the help they need from insurance companies or federal assistance. Without this aid, and unable to pay for rebuilding themselves, they may suffer unnecessarily, living in substandard, unsafe conditions. Non-profit rebuilding groups can address these so-called, “unmet need” cases. As a local leader, you can help match these cases with the non-profit organizations that can help them rebuild.

How Should Local Governments Respond to an Emergency Situation in the Short-Term?

The immediate response that a local government takes when a disaster occurs can make or break the severity of the situation.

Here are some of the immediate actions your local government should take when a natural disaster happens in your community:

1. Begin Search and Rescue Missions

Depending on the severity of the situation, there’s a good chance that there are families and residents that stayed home despite the impending storm or were otherwise caught off guard. It is vital that search teams and first responders begin looking for survivors in order to save lives. 

2. Set-Up Shelters

Unfortunately, a massive storm can leave many people in your community without a home. Make sure that a public building in an unaffected area or a nearby location is accessible to those without a place to sleep. Having food and water accessible for those in need will also be essential. 

3. Assess the Damage

Your government workers will need to scope out the entirety of the damage and consider which issues need to be prioritized. Understanding which structures have been severely damaged, which properties were insured, and which citizens are likely to need help rebuilding are critical to estimating the cost and time necessary to rebuild. 

A GIS mapping system can help identify areas and specific properties of concern so that you can communicate your municipality’s needs with state and federal government officials in order to eventually access relief funding. 

Working with leadership at the state level including the Governor’s office, considerations might be made to rebuild buildings and infrastructure to be more resilient to future disasters, or to offer a land buyback program to impacted property owners as an incentive for them to move out of flood prone areas.

What Steps Are Needed for Long-Term Recovery?

Long-term recovery is complex and arduous. In most cases, it will take months - likely years for your community to recover.

Here are the steps needed for long-term recovery in your community:

1. Apply for Federal Relief Funds

In a major event, the Governor of your state will request a Federal Disaster Declaration which will be approved by the President. This will enable municipalities to eventually access Federal relief funds through HUD and FEMA which will be integral to the recovery of your community. 

Keep in mind though, that it often takes 18 - 24 months for municipalities impacted by disaster to receive Federal relief funding, and even longer still for those funds to directly reach those in your community who need them most. The decisions made early on in the recovery process by local officials will have a major impact on how quick and efficient the recovery process is. 

2. Contact Community Leadership for Support

As you work to bounce back from a natural disaster, you will need to partner with leadership within relevant departments of your local government as well as local organizations, religious groups, non-profits, and business owners to put your game plan into action. Community leaders can make a big impact by organizing groups of people, supplies, and monetary donations, and can provide places of shelter and community healing. 

Local United Way chapters - already part of the community - can assist survivors, and schools and places of worship are great places to assemble to educate constituents on the recovery process. 

It should be noted that after a disaster, it is best to solicit cash donations rather than physical goods like clothes and food which are often sent arbitrarily and must then be organized and stored on site by volunteers, adversely impacting capacity respond.

3. Seek Volunteers

If disasters teach us anything it is that community is not defined by proximity. Time and again fellow Americans from across the country have converged on disaster areas to lend their support to recovery efforts. 

Seeking out additional support from volunteers in a time of crisis can rapidly expedite the process. Consider calling on community members as well as concerned citizens from elsewhere to help clear debris, muck-and-gut homes, and begin the recovery process as soon as possible. Volunteer registration software, available from GovPilot can be helpful to organize and track large numbers of volunteers. 

Coordinate with local and national organizations, and partner agencies such as the American Red Cross, SBP, Team Rubicon, your local United Way chapter, local community foundations, and other non-profit organizations to implement volunteer efforts in the field, and to provide support and resources to impacted citizens.

Be sure to keep volunteers engaged by assigning meaningful tasks. Many non-profit disaster related volunteer organizations such as SBP and Team Rubicon are adept at coordinating with local leadership and quickly standing up effective volunteer efforts in the immediate aftermath of a disaster through long-term rebuilding. These organizations are well-equipped to tarp roofs, muck-and-gut flooded homes, and to train local groups to further increase capacity and local know-how. Your municipality may however, find itself with a number of interested volunteers not associated with one of these groups. It is in your best interest to assign them to critical tasks - as safety allows - such as debris removal rather than unrelated tasks such as painting fire hydrants. Better yet, you can direct local volunteers to established non-profit volunteer organizations. For this reason, you might consider pre-establishing a relationship with disaster response and recovery non-profits like SBP and Team Rubicon.

4. Educate Impacted Constituents 

According to Reese May, Chief Innovation Officer for disaster recovery non-profit, SBP, FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are the first line of federal financial assistance for disaster victims until longer-term funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may arrive, years later. HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) dollars are typically reserved for very severe disasters. Many smaller disasters (dozens each year across the country) do not meet the threshold for this kind of assistance. In those cases, the FEMA and SBA programs represent the only financial assistance available to impacted households. Accessing the full amount of assistance from FEMA is not an intuitive process but the ability to do so could mean the difference between $3,300 in assistance and $33,000. For a single parent with young children, or a senior citizen on fixed income, facing expensive home repairs and an unknowable delay in additional assistance, every penny counts.

According to Reese May, SBP's Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, "Appealing [for full relief funds] is an arduous process, and one that's often confusing to the applicant." 

Ensuring a prompt, predictable, efficient recovery requires not only that needs are met, but that individuals make well-informed decisions. As a local leader you can smooth the recovery process by providing straightforward, proven-effective resources to your community.

For constituents, predictability in the recovery process is crucial. Without a predictable timeline for rebuilding, residents will be staring into the abyss of uncertainty, unsure of when they’ll be able to return home, how much money it will take to get there, where they will live in the meantime, and how their kids and parents will adjust. 

As a local leader, you can provide the stability and predictability that disaster survivors need by sharing information and actionable resources. For example here is a helpful map - provided by national non-profit SBP - of the application process for individual assistance via FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA). 

FEMA Assistance Application Process

5. Understand Complexity 

For local leaders, especially those responding to and recovering from a disaster for the first time - the learning curve is steep. Mistakes and poor decisions along the way - especially early on - can compound an already bad situation and prolong recovery.

These leaders must respond to their community’s immediate needs while simultaneously accessing federal funds and designing long-term recovery programs that will effectively deliver millions, or billions, of dollars to meet survivors’ needs. It is critical to work with a trusted advisor who can help design recovery programs that are tailored to each community, based on best-practices. If you are a local leader looking to implement a comprehensive long-term disaster recovery program, reach out to SBP’s team of non-profit government advisors who have helped communities across the U.S. design and implement efficient recovery programs.

6. Lead Through Adversity

As a local official you know your community best. You understand the individuals and families that live in your municipality and the businesses that operate there. You also understand your local government’s capacity to realize an efficient recovery.

Disaster recovery is extremely complex and difficult. As a leader, the learning curve will be steep but it is your responsibility to become educated, ask questions, and guide your community. Dare to set aggressive, ambitious goals and benchmark results against those goals. For example if you set a goal to rebuild 500 homes within the first year of a disaster, benchmark against that goal, and hold contractors accountable. 

According to SBP, The primary challenge is how little programmatic direction disaster recovery leaders receive. Granting agencies within the federal government provide resources to state and local governments but offer little information or advice in the way of program design and execution. Disaster impacted states and communities often become siloed, and lack the communication network required to share the most effective techniques and best practices. This information gap leaves many leaders without the tools they need to assess need, action plan, contract for services, or implement and scale recovery efforts. To counter this, SBP offers a leader practitioner course to help local leaders better understand and lead through the recovery process. 

Led by JR Sanderson, the former administrator of South Carolina’s highly successful Disaster Recovery Office, the Leadership Practitioner Courses (LPCs) are designed to educate and inform grantees on how to administer more productive and efficient disaster recover programs. The courses, held in person at SBP’s headquarters in New Orleans, teaches public administration leadership combined with practical management skills under the auspices of a CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT grant.

Ultimately, your leadership, transparency, and guidance will be appreciated by your constituents and have a major impact on the success of the recovery. 

In Conclusion

As a local government official, it is your obligation to constituents to ensure their safety in a time of crisis. A comprehensive emergency preparedness plan that is well thought out and rehearsed is excellent, but in order to build true community resilience, local leaders must also educate constituents both before and after disaster to mitigate harmful impacts and to ensure that a recovery will be as prompt, predictable, efficient, and equitable as possible.  

Taking steps such as providing pre and post-disaster training, establish working relationships with organizations with your community, retrofitting buildings, encouraging proper insurance, moving your government's services and operations to a cloud-based platform, and making information and resources readily available to constituents will help your community be more resilient in the face of disaster and more successful in recovery should one occur.

To speak with a member of  SBP's non-profit government advisory services team, please submit the form below:

 

 

To learn about ways to make your local government more efficient and resilient through updated technology and digital transformation, schedule a demo with GovPilot.

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Disaster Preparedness FAQ

1. What is SBP?

SBP (sbpusa.org) - formerly known as St. Bernard Project - is a national non-profit organization focused on disaster resilience and recovery. It was founded in March 2006 in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.

Today, SBP is headquartered in New Orleans and is a national organization with a mission is to shrink time between disaster and recovery. Since its founding SBP has rebuilt homes for more than 2,000 families with the help of 130,000 volunteers in 13 communities across the U.S. and in the Bahamas. SBP shrinks time between disaster and recovery through five interventions: Rebuilding efficiently; Sharing its model with other organizations; Preparing home and business owners through resilience training; Advising municipal and state officials; and Advocating for policy changes and improvements to the disaster recovery industry. To achieve our mission, SBP takes a holistic approach to disasters—increasing resilience before and streamlining recovery after.

SBP has rebuilt homes and advised state and local government officials in Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, West Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. 

2. Why is Disaster Preparedness Important?

Disaster preparedness is a critical component of mitigation which seeks to ensure that both property and people reduce their exposure to risk and understand how to protect themselves in the event of an emergency. Critically, disaster preparedness includes understanding the recovery process and taking steps to educate constituents on how to best recover including, avoiding contractor fraud, submitting insurance claims and filing for individual assistance from FEMA. 

3. What are the four phases of an emergency management plan? 

Typically, an emergency preparedness plan is broken down into four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

4. What is business continuity? Why is it important for local government?

Business continuity is "the capability of an organization to continue the delivery of products or services at pre-defined acceptable levels following a disruptive incident or disaster.” As local governments are on the front lines of any disaster and will be the first entity able to address citizen needs during a crisis, it is vital that local government be able to continue operations and the delivery of services, during and after a disaster.

Tags: Constituent Engagement, GIS Map, Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation, Blog, Emergency Management