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PRE-DISASTER MITIGATION FOR
COMMUNITY- AND FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS
THESE MATERIALS WERE PREPARED THROUGH A CONTRACT FROM THE
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA), THE EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
AND RESPONSE DIRECTORATE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS).
THE MATERIALS ARE BASED ON THE EXPERIENCE AND COUNSEL OF
COMMUNITIES, FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS, AND EMERGENCY MANAGERS FROM AROUND
Introduction to Community-Based Mitigation
When it comes to disaster, emergency managers and community-based and
faith-based organizations (CBOs
and FBOs) have long operated within certain traditional roles. CBOs and
FBOs are accustomed to deploying
volunteers and services in disaster relief and recovery. Food, shelter,
blankets, the organization of volunteer
resources, and the provision of human warmth and comfort are their areas
Emergency managers typically are focused on emergency operations and technical
solutions. They are burdened
with too much to do and too few resources. In many cases, emergency managers
have their hands full
maintaining a decent state of preparedness and responding when disaster
occurs. They generally work with volunteers in well-defined circumstances
during and after disasters.
There is a growing trend around the country for CBOs and FBOs to cooperate
with emergency managers in a different kind of partnership.
Community-based mitigation programs concentrate on ongoing efforts that
lessen the impact disasters have on people and property. These programs
capitalize on the distinct and separate
strengths that CBOs/FBOs and emergency managers represent.
CBOs and FBOs offer:
• Immense volunteer capacity
• Understanding of community needs and awareness of the most vulnerable
• Built-in credibility with the community
• Access to social and population groups that may avoid interaction
with government officials
• The power of persuasion and community influence
• The ability to make decisions outside of government processes
Emergency managers provide access to:
• Funding available through government mitigation grant programs
• Government-based expertise and technical know-how
• Deep understanding of local risks and mitigation needs
• Current status of mitigation within the community
• Access to government expertise and resources at the local, state,
regional and federal level
The benefits of CBO/FBO and emergency management partnerships are enormous.
They include the following:
• CBO/FBO and emergency management partnerships support the reduction
of disaster risk, even in
highly resource-constrained situations.
• Mitigation activities can keep experienced volunteers active and
enthusiastic even in times when their
special disaster response and recovery skills are not needed.
• Opportunities exist to bring a whole new group of volunteers into
I-1 • Program activities maintain community interest and increase
awareness regarding disaster risk
reduction and preparedness.
• Community members acquire a sense of empowerment through reducing
their disaster risk. They buy
in at the grassroots level.
• The partnerships and relationships built through such programs
further strengthen community bonds.
• When disaster does strike, response and recovery efforts are likely
to proceed more smoothly
because people know each other, damage and loss are reduced due to mitigation
citizens are apt to be more prepared as a result of their increased disaster
Both CBOs/FBOs and emergency managers will be challenged by cultural and
organizational differences when they step beyond traditional roles to
form these new partnerships. Leadership and operational styles may vary
widely. The mission of each group will vary distinctly, both within the
CBO and FBO community, and between
CBOs/FBOs and emergency managers. For example, CBOs and FBOs are likely
to have decision processes
that are less structured and potentially more consensus-based. On the
other hand, emergency managers
generally operate within a command-and-control, fairly hierarchical decision-making
and leadership framework.
For any partnership to succeed, it is important for each group to understand
the cultural values and viewpoints
of their partners, and to honor and respect them.
A Caveat on Community-Based Mitigation Programs
INSTRUCTOR GUIDE TO WORKSHOPS
If your community chooses to either establish a community-based mitigation
program – or to enhance an existing
partnership between emergency managers and CBOs/FBOs – it’s
critical that emergency managers be informed
and brought into the loop as early as possible. Emergency managers are
a tremendous resource that should be
tapped to help volunteer groups understand the local natural hazards and
how volunteers most successfully and
effectively address outstanding mitigation needs in the community.
Because emergency managers are charged formally with the task of community
response, and mitigation, volunteer efforts must dovetail with the official
plans either in place or underway.
Volunteer support should be viewed as the asset it is. Failure to involve
emergency managers in discussions
could result in misunderstandings or even a situation in which volunteer
activities impede progress. Coordination
and solid communication are a must.
CBO and FBO volunteers can achieve optimum results when working in partnership
with emergency managers
and in accordance with official Community Mitigation Plans.
The Community-based Pre-Disaster Mitigation for CBOs/FBOs training materials
are designed to help CBOs
and FBOs form partnerships with emergency managers to create and sustain
Sourced from FEMA