The philanthropic sector is a highly effective and essential component of disaster recovery, but it is important to remember that the government leads recovery efforts.
To that end, effective preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery strategies rely upon wide-scale collaboration and open lines of communication. The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA’s) mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards. Developing relationships, preferably in advance but most definitely post-disaster, with government emergency management and response personnel is vital to developing a fully-informed recovery strategy.
- There are ten FEMA Regions in the USA, and every region has a full-time, permanent FEMA staff present year-round, regardless of whether or not there is a local disaster recovery in effect.
- FEMA’s primary role in any disaster is to provide emergency assistance to individuals. This could be in the form of temporary housing, short-term financial relocation funding, and grant payments for damaged property.
- When disaster strikes, FEMA personnel are deployed to the affected community/region, and depending upon the size of the disaster, anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand FEMA staffers and volunteers may be positioned.
- Philanthropic leaders have a keen understanding of the characteristics that define their communities and can communicate this important tacit knowledge to recovery specialists.
- While the FEMA personnel deployed to a region post-disaster have a National Disaster Recovery Framework from which they operate, they do not have the key relationships in that region and will rely on philanthropic and nonprofit leaders for this background and information.
- FEMA staff deployed to a region in response to disaster can and will be re-deployed to another region without notice.
- Federal dollars in support of your region’s recovery will be dispersed from the Federal Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (via Community Development Block Grants) to your Department of Community Affairs (DCA) who will then allocate grant recovery funds. As such, your state’s commissioners play a vital role in the recovery process.
- Establishing communication with FEMA and state, county and local government offices in advance of any disaster, will serve your community and your mission in an effective and smart manner.