Your Community in Dialogue: Promoting Public Discussions on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response


This past December, FEMA released its Whole Community Approach to Disaster Management.  The theme of this program advocates a different approach to how the U.S. Government responds to disasters – now when things go disastrously bad, you simply cannot count on the government to solve all your problems.  Successful emergency response and disaster recovery really boils down to the emergency preparedness and disaster response capability of the individual and, by extension, an individual community. This could be a mind bender for some to understand.

The first question which must be asked – have you reviewed the Whole Community Approach to Disaster Management?  If so, do you agree with its premise?  If you don’t agree, we encourage you to make your voice heard amongst your elected officials.  If you do agree, then we strongly encourage you to become an emergency preparedness activist for your family, community, and amongst your civic leaders.

Before deciding which way you come down on FEMA’s new approach, we might suggest a few additional questions to ask yourself and pose to elected officials:

  • Where does the funding come from to facilitate this new “whole community” approach?
  • Who has the funding and equipment resources needed to implement the program locally?
  • Is there training for individual communities to actually learn the process of becoming independently resilient?
  • At what point will the Federal Government step in during a crisis when local resources fail?

We believe one of the very first steps in becoming a resilient community and individually accepting the role of “emergency preparedness activist” is to open up the channels of communication with public officials to become educated and learn what you can do and, more importantly, what your community can do with inspired leadership by local officials. We are launching a new blog series entitled Your Community in Dialogue to actively promote dialogue in public meetings. In each post we will share thought-provoking insights, and key questions for active members of communities to engage their community leaders.

We then ask you to share the results of your community conversations with other readers of this blog.  Frankly speaking, unless active members of the public fully engage community leaders tasked with emergency preparedness and disaster response, most will never know if, or even how their community plans to deal with common extreme weather emergencies or, heaven forbid, the unthinkable catastrophic disaster scenario.

When you attend upcoming meetings with your child’s Parent Teacher Association, or elected officials, City Council, Board of Supervisors, Town Hall or Neighborhood Watch ensure that emergency preparedness and disaster response conversations makes it onto the agenda. In the midst of a general election year, elected officials typically are more focused on the needs of their constituents. Take advantage of this opportunity. Don’t take no for an answer and don’t let this very important issue be marginalized. Community leaders answer to YOU as members of the community!  You are important and you have a voice! Use that voice to be an instrument for change and progress.

We would then like to know – did you get a substantive answer to your questions?  Or do you feel you were simply blown off?  By sharing your experiences (the good and the bad) as you engage in these dialogues, it will be of great help to all of our readership and truly promote an open, effective dialogue.

This blog series also just might prove once and for all that Social Media is good for more than idle “chit chat”. Let’s challenge social media to bring emergency preparedness to the fore front of community discussions. “Inquiring minds want to know?”

Watch for the first of Your Community in Dialogue blogs coming soon: Nuclear Power Plant Safety in Your Community. We look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts!

Facta Non Verba


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