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Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private–Public Collaboration
enhancing efforts in local communities. Community efforts begin with individuals from any sector believing in and acting on a sense of personal responsibility to ensure community sustainability. Those individuals also convince others of similar need to act. Leadership and initiative can come from any sector.
Local government and local business and civic organizations have unique knowledge of, access to, and communication with individual citizens throughout the community. Well-prepared individuals contribute to household and workplace resilience. Well-prepared households and businesses contribute to neighborhood, social, commercial, economic, and community resilience. Well-prepared communities place fewer demands on state and federal resources because they are better able to cope when disasters or other disruptions occur. A nation is resilient when it is made up of resilient communities.
The notion that disaster resilience is fostered at the local community level is a cornerstone of many recent national preparedness efforts, including those of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Response Framework. It states in part that “an effective, unified national response requires layered, mutually supporting capabilities” (FEMA, 2008:4), and that “resilient communities begin with prepared individuals and depend on the leadership and engagement of local government, NGOs, and the private sector” (FEMA, 2008:5). The concept of a “tiered response,” a key element of the framework, places primary responsibility for hazard and disaster management at the local community level. Although it indicates that response activities must be flexible and scalable, the framework contains the directive that “incidents must be managed at the lowest possible jurisdictional level and supported by additional capabilities when needed” and states further that “incidents begin and end locally, and most are wholly managed at the local level” (FEMA, 2008:10). It can even be hypothesized, as Mileti (1999) did, that an indicator of community disaster resilience is the ability of a local community to cope with events without relying excessively on outside resources. Conversely, as seen during the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, communities and societies that lack disaster resilience may depend almost exclusively on external aid.
However, community and extracommunity preparedness efforts aid and reinforce household, business, and individual preparedness. Community resilience-enhancing interventions can thus be used at any level of analysis—individuals, households, neighborhoods and community associations, individual businesses and groups of businesses, individual nonprofit organizations and networks of nonprofit organizations—with a key stipulation that such efforts be mutually reinforcing.
The sections that follow discuss the strategic dimensions of a national framework for enhancing disaster resilience with an emphasis on local-level strategies. The committee was asked to focus on community-level private–public collaboration, and it did, but the committee would be remiss to ignore the sociopolitical environment that is conducive to such collaboration. Discussions of strategy are based on what has been learned not only in the fields of emergency management and disaster-loss reduction but in other fields such as