West Virginia: A Whole Communitys
Approach to Preparedness & Resilience
July 26, 2011
On July 26 the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA), Volunteer West Virginia, the West Virginia
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the West
Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety hosted a
workshop on whole community emergency planning. The sixty-eight people
attending represented federal, state, and local government, Citizen
Corps, local health departments, local schools, colleges and
universities, churches, the Red Cross, the United Way and other
community organizations. They convened in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Workshop topics were based on the results of a community disaster
preparedness survey conducted by Volunteer West Virginia.
The workshop provided an opportunity
for emergency managers, planners, community preparedness experts, and
others to participate in discussions about engaging West Virginia
residents in their own preparedness and about planning as a whole
community. Participants heard from government, private sector, and
volunteer agencies on emergency preparedness topics and activities.
Guest speakers included representatives from FEMA Region Ill, the
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc., Delaware Citizen Corps, and
federal, state, and local emergency preparedness stakeholders.
West Virginia Division of Homeland
Security and Emergency Management Director and Homeland Security
Advisor Jimmy Gianato opened the day with a welcome and encouragement
to continue working together in communities and in government to
increase community resiliency. MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region Ill
Administrator, delivered a presentation on the Whole Community concept
and what it means to engage everyone in disaster planning, response,
Representatives from the Wood/Wirt County LEPC included Jim Rose,
Kristine Green, Bo Wriston, and Rick Sawyer.
The Whole Community concept includes the following tenants:
meeting the true needs of the entire affected community.
Engaging all aspects of
the community (pub/k, private, and civic in both defining those needs
and devising ways to meet them.
assets, institutions, and social processes that work well in
communities on a daily basis to improve resilience and emergency
Groups discussed the following three questions:
1. How do we most
effectively engage the whole community in emergency management to
include a wide breadth of community members (e.g. local and state
community representatives, academia, faith-based and community-based
organizations, private sector, etc.)?
2. How might we solicit
creative assistance in broadening the team to include new partners and
develop innovative solutions?
3. How else might we
continue to refine this whole community approach?
Notes from the discussion groups
How do we most effectively engage the Whole Community?
Groups to Consider:
- Phone companies
- School Systems
- Chamber of Commerce
- Bike Rides, other social groups/activities
- Farmers Markets
- National Service Teams: AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, National Civilian
Community Corps (NCCC)
- Seasonal Employment/Employers
- Insurance Companies
Make preparedness relevant & interesting, use games
Utilize free resources such as: PSAs, local press, free press
Take information to where people are, make it easy and convenient
(like Lunch & Learn presentations)
Conduct Joint Exercises include everyone at all phases
Simplify and Improve Grant funding process
Utilize existing organizations and non-traditional partners, i.e.
Invite your naysayers
Process needs to be open and systematic
Need leaders from each group/community
Choose meaningful things to work on
Liability issue needs to be resolved
Need to build confidence in federal programs to protect privacy
Need mental health at the table
Need business leaders they have expertise and resources
Join up with other counties/regions need to look at bigger playing
Notify the community about your efforts, use community anchors,
begin with a conversation, learn history and motivators
Plan differently and be flexible change the day to fit the
Educate internal and external audiences on each emergency
Identify vulnerable community groups
How might we solicit creative assistance
to broaden the scope of partnerships?
Value Diversity, honor & respect all input and all cultures
Take advantage of new media, web 2.0, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Use and Design Incentives/motivations
Use statistics to show why it is important to get involved
Bring a friend to include target populations
Use unique events creatively (babysitting vs. emergency training)
Use volunteer resource center
Tap into new resources
Use a common language, ditch acronyms
Send personal invitations
Ask what can we do for you
Design a Peer Share Program; pull in local counties/regional to
assist small counties/communities
Community resource mapping identify resources figure out who has
not been asked before, volunteer registry
Bring in pharmacists delivery info in prescriptions
Put info in grocery bags and gas stations
Pass out info at blood drives
Get message in mail order industry
FEMA Disaster Application for phones
Emergency warning system for cell phones
Notable faces and names delivering keys messages
Real life survivors testimonies
Leverage your community partners on projects where staff is short
How else might we refine/sustain the idea of whole community?
Make it sustainable, self perpetuating
Dont stop growing
Continue to train, reinforce, identification, & say thank you!
Use available grants
Document (systematically) the process, dont reinvent the wheel
Better have good contact records
Identify skill level within community
Need to invite more people into meetings
Public needs to feel their comments are welcome
Community leaders need to be more open/honest
Identify evacuation routes and make available to the
Instill responsibility as a way of life
Empower community to be their own emergency management superheroes
Be aware of how procedures limit participation of some stakeholders
Down and read the complete report