Modern communities are faced with myriad threats, risks, and hazards that require careful planning, significant information gathering, and actionable preparedness practices. Since incidents range in scale and scope, it is important to not only examine the factors related to the type of incident, but also examine the factors related to specific agencies and organizations. Otherwise, resilience can become a difficult goal to achieve when information needs and resource requirements are not met. The 2017 hurricane season and wildfires highlighted the interconnectedness of these factors to a community’s resilience.

In addition to natural disasters, human-caused incidents can affect a community’s ability to recover after a disaster – for example, terrorism, nuclear deployment, and gaps in the legal system. Complex coordinated terrorist attacks, for instance, are not easily detected before an incident occurs. The nuclear threat has changed over time and requires reexamination of emergency plans, tools, and procedures. In adddition, immigration and the visa process illustrate how the complexity of a process can actually create gaps and vulnerabilities.

Factors that promote resilience include the ability to protect children, relocate animals, organize volunteers, and promote personal preparedness. Investments at the local, state, and federal levels are required to protect community members and make schools safe and secure for the vulnerable populations within their walls. Coordination between jurisdictions is needed to facilitate the movement of resources into a disaster-affected area and the evacuation of the people and relocation of animals away from these areas. Management of disaster services for both large- and small-scale disasters involves volunteer organizations that fill critical resource gaps, organize response teams, and provide humanitarian services. Yet, personal preparedness remains the first line of defense when faced with emergencies and disasters. Planning for a disaster while considering numerous interconnected factors, followed by implementing the plan, are what will build and sustain a community’s resilience.

Catherine L. Feinman

Catherine L. Feinman, M.A., joined Domestic Preparedness in January 2010. She has more than 35 years of publishing experience and currently serves as editor of the Domestic Preparedness Journal, DomesticPreparedness.com, and The Weekly Brief. She works with writers and other contributors to build and create new content that is relevant to the emergency preparedness, response, and recovery communities. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University.

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