During September’s Preparedness Month, when individuals and families are urged to take steps to be ready for emergencies and disasters, it’s important to know that communities are also taking steps to be more prepared.
During an emergency or disaster, the preparedness of a community has a direct impact on its ability to respond and recover. In Iowa, local emergency managers, volunteers and businesses are taking a variety of measures to ensure their citizens, businesses and neighborhoods are prepared.
Local emergency management agencies are the backbone of the state’s emergency management system. They work with emergency responders in each county to help them with emergency and disaster planning, training and exercises so communities can grow their capabilities. Local emergency managers serve as a vital link with state government to ensure needed resources are delivered during disasters, and to assist in recovery efforts.
“Even though Story County Emergency Management is the custodian of the Story County Emergency Operations Plan, it is a whole community planning process. The key to having an efficient and effective emergency response capability is for leadership from the government, public and private sectors to work together to improve our planning for disaster response and recovery.” Keith Morgan, Story County Emergency Management Coordinator explained.
Volunteers are another valuable resource for communities impacted by disasters. Story County is fortunate to have the Story County Coalition for Disaster Recovery (CDR) to coordinate disaster planning, training, and response for volunteer organizations and individuals. Through their efforts, these organizations can rapidly come together to strengthen community resilience throughout the disaster cycle. “The CDR allows for the cooperative use of skills and resources and prevents duplication of response and recovery efforts.” More information on the CDR can be found at http://www.storycountyiowa.gov/volunteeropportunities or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/storycountycdr . At the state level, the Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council comprised of faith-based, voluntary and government agency representatives, works to identify and address the unmet needs of citizens impacted by disasters and assists with the coordination of volunteers and donations. More on the IDHRC can be found at www.beready.iowa.gov/get_involved/idhrc.html.
Businesses also play a vital role in the preparedness of communities. Through the Safeguard Iowa Partnership (SIP), more than 200 businesses in Iowa have taken steps to ensure that they, and their employees, are prepared for disasters. During disasters, SIP supports government and business communication and coordination through the private-sector liaisons who work in local and state emergency operations centers. They provide share critical information between government and businesses and help locate private sector resources essential to disaster response. Find out more about the Safeguard Iowa Partnership and free preparedness resources for businesses at www.safeguardiowa.org.
In the disaster response community, the often heard phrase is, ‘disasters start and end locally’. The residents, businesses, first responders, and leadership of a community will be the initial response in those first critical minutes where most lives are saved after a disaster strikes. It will also be these groups working together to ensure their community is rebuilt better and stronger after a disaster. We encourage all of these groups to start to come together now to ensure they have the ability to provide essential services when a disaster strikes their community.
For more information on Preparedness Month, visit www.beready.iowa.gov.