Posted By: Deb Ingram, Assistant Administrator, Recovery
In the wake of this year’s deadly tornadoes, storms and flooding, we’re working diligently with a wide array of partner agencies and organizations to support communities recently impacted by disasters (such as Joplin, Mo., Smithville, Miss.; and Cordova, Ala. as well as many others) as they work down the path towards long term recovery and reconstruction. With these thoughts in mind, this week, FEMA hosted a Sustainable Communities Workshop – A Peer-to-Peer Discussion on Recovery in Greensburg, Kansas.
While Greensburg may seem like an odd place to bring together leaders in the emergency management and disaster recovery field, the town has significant meaning for disaster recovery and hazard mitigation. Greensburg sustained damage from an EF-5 tornado on May 4, 2007 that resulted in more than 90 percent of the structures in the community being severely damaged or destroyed, giving leaders there a unique perspective on the challenges currently facing several cities devastated by this spring’s disasters.
The discussions were open and honest, with the focus being the integration of sustainability concepts and principles into recovery. Participants provided state and local peer-to-peer best practices, guidance and advice to one another to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of long term recovery and hazard mitigation efforts.
For me, the most promising take-a-way from the workshop was strengthening relationships between federal, tribal, state and local governments, the business community, non-profit and faith-based groups and the public - who all have a stake in how a community rebuilds after a disaster.
As the recovery and rebuilding efforts continue in the areas hit by the recent disasters, it’s this kind of knowledge sharing and collaboration that will show community leaders that their communities really can come back stronger than ever. This collaboration effort will help communities not only recover from disaster but do so in a way that is good for the environment, good for taxpayers and good for the public’s
This event is also one result of a collaboration between FEMA and Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable Communities, from a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) signed in March 2010 (PDF, TXT). This MOA encourages the agencies to work together to build a strong framework for both pre-disaster planning, post-disaster recovery and integrating smart growth into hazard mitigation planning for communities around the nation. This work also helps to inform federal, tribal, state and local efforts to develop strategies for integrating hazard mitigation and recovery programs and adapting to a changing climate.
We wanted to be sure that the lessons shared during this workshop went beyond just those that were able to participate, so a report is being produced to document the keys ideas and recommendations from the communities and states that were able to participate.
FEMA will continue working with all the communities affected by this spring’s disasters to support them as they continue down their road to recovery and work to come back stronger and more sustainable, while mitigating against future disaster.
- More information about Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable Communities
- Long Term Community Recovery Planning – A Self Help Guide
- 2008 Road to Recovery – Review of Emergency Support Function #14 LTCR Activities
- Sustainability and Hazard Mitigation in Recovery
- More information about rebuilding after a disaster