Collaboration with Elected Officials Assists Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
As Hurricane Florence churned its way toward the East Coast this month, there was growing concern that Florence would strengthen into a Category 5 storm when it hit the Carolinas. The storm was of especially great concern to emergency managers and other public officials, who were trying to determine where the hurricane would land and how to effectively warn people in its path.
Evacuation strategies were planned and broadcast to residents on local media. Also, teams of first responders assembled to travel into the areas that would be most affected by the hurricane.
In addition, numerous legislators sent newsletters to their constituents to tell them what they needed to do to prepare. For example, Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) worked to keep his Richmond, Virginia, area constituents abreast of disaster preparedness efforts.
Newsletters or website postings, particularly those coming directly from their elected officials, provide area residents with the information they need to be better prepared for the impending storm. Those communications were particularly helpful in broadcasting the threat of Hurricane Florence.
Preparedness efforts were excellent and certainly demonstrated the strength of American emergency management policies.
Recovery Phase of Emergency Management
However, when it comes to the recovery phase in the emergency management cycle, it can be difficult for citizens to know where to start, whether they have been personally affected or not. Furthermore, they don’t know how to help others who may have lost everything.
Public officials should take these situations into account and educate the general public on the needs of people directly affected by major storms. This collaboration can have a dramatic impact on everyone who’s lived through a devastating hurricane.
Elected Officials Can Contact Constituency Networks during the Recovery Phase
Once a disaster has occurred and emergency management moves into the recovery phase, elected officials should continue to provide information to their constituents on what they should do next.
While emergency managers work diligently to explain to the general public what they should do, elected officials should follow their lead and regularly update their constituents with emergency-related information. Collaboration is an integral part of emergency management and by working in tandem with emergency managers, elected officials help close any information gaps among the population.
Elected officials should also maintain regular contact with emergency managers to learn where and how they can help. Information from an elected official is often deemed more credible than what the media are reporting. Furthermore, individuals may want to help even more when they respond to a call from their mayor or U.S. representative.