Communities are dynamic and respond to changes in population, political leadership, the economy, and environmental factors. Resilient communities can withstand hazards, continue to operate under stress, adapt to adversity, and recover functionality after a crisis. However, community resilience is not just about disasters. The term resilience describes the continued ability of a person, group, or system to function during and after any sort of stress. A healthy community with a strong economy, commitment to social justice, and strong environmental standards will be able to bounce back better after a disaster; such communities exhibit a greater degree of resilience. Building and maintaining disaster resilience depends on the ability of a community to monitor change and then modify plans and activities appropriately to accommodate the observed change. The committee finds that private–public collaboration is crucial to the building of networks and trust vital to creating and sustaining healthy, resilient communities.
In considering disaster resilience, a community cannot be defined solely by jurisdictional boundaries because disasters do not fall neatly within geographic limits. In this report, community is defined as a group of people who have a common domain of interest—in this case, disaster resilience. The committee finds it very important to engage representatives of the full fabric of the community in decisions related to the full disaster cycle: disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Effective private–public collaboration includes government emergency-response agencies, other public-sector organizations, and all elements of the private sector. The committee defines the private sector to include businesses, nongovernment organizations, volunteer, academic and technical institutions, faith-based organizations, and other civic-minded organizations. Successful collaboration is ideally informed by people from all walks of life, including minorities, the disenfranchised, those with disabilities, children, the elderly, and other populations that are potentially vulnerable. It is essential to have representation for those who deal continually with crises such as poverty, crime, violence, serious illness, and unemployment—the most vulnerable in the community—because survival often takes precedence over issues associated with disaster preparedness and resilience among those members of the community. Engaging the full community in resilience-focused activities, rather than merely providing resources to those who require assistance, allows communities to leverage fully the resources and capacities resident in the community. Through collaboration, participants and those they represent become empowered community members.
Collaborative arrangements emerge when key public- and private-sector actors recognize that individual and community goals cannot be effectively achieved through