New Recovery Resources in Houston, TX

Introducing guest blogger, Jonathan Wiggins, to describe the efforts underway in Houston, TX. He is on staff at the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

New Recovery Planning Resources

The Houston Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) region has experienced a number of flooding incidents in the past several years, Hurricane Harvey having had the largest impact across the five-county region. As a result, the Regional Recovery Work Group stood up in 2016 to develop resources to help raise the recovery preparedness posture of communities within the region.

The Work Group’s premier product is a pre-disaster recovery (PDRP) template, which was completed in January 2019. The PDRP is a high-level playbook meant to walk a community through a successful recovery. If the person assigned to lead recovery efforts has no prior recovery experience, the plan includes an over of recovery, including the three phases and links to the six Recovery Support Functions (RSF). It suggests several strategies for each phase of recovery and assigns responsibility of recovery tasks to different agencies and organizations. In addition, we are currently working on annexes to the template to address each RSF more specifically.

Another product the Work Group is developing is an exercise package. It can function as a workshop for communities that don’t currently have a PDRP or as a tabletop exercise to validate a community’s PDRP. While it complements the PDRP template, a community can use it to test any existing recovery plan. The exercise is meant to bring recovery-oriented agencies and organizations together to help them better understand where they and the other partners in the room fit in to the recovery scheme. A situation manual is currently available, and the Work Group will be developing other collateral, such as email announcement text, presentation templates, and a partially developed after-action report.

The intent with both the PDRP template and the exercise package is to provide communities with a 90% solution. These resources are mostly complete, but there will be blanks for the communities to fill in. Additionally, the planning team should scrutinize the text to ensure it’s appropriate to their community. In some instances, it may be spot on. In others, it may be close but needs some modification. Some of the content may not be applicable and should be deleted. We would stress that while a lot of the work may have already been done, these efforts should still always involve a planning team.

As the Work Group develops products, they will be posted to the Houston UASI website at https://houstonuasi.com/recovery-resources. While we’re developing these resources for communities in our region, we want to be good stewards of the grant money we receive and share these products with the rest of the world. Currently only the PDRP template and the exercise situation manual have been posted, but we’re slowly working to post more content. We’re open to feedback, but more than that, we’d love to hear how other communities are using these resources. Feel free to shoot me an email at jonathan.wiggins@houstontx.gov

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