Two New Reports, from ICMA and IBM

From GovExec: Disasters are Inevitable; Governments Inadequate Response is Not.
New research analyzing the responses of hundreds of local leaders identified common obstacles and proven ways to overcome them. So, how do communities—especially small towns—manage the looming specter of a natural disaster? Can they do something in advance? An excerpt :
A new study by a team of researchers—Katherine Willoughby, Komla Dzigbede, and Sarah Beth Gehl—analyzed the responses of hundreds of local government leaders to surveys conducted by the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA). They also interviewed nearly two dozen local leaders that experienced disasters about their experiences with managing their community’s recovery. Based on this information, they identified obstacles and promising practices for local leaders.

From the same authors and organizations: How Localities Continually Adapt Enterprise Strategies to Manage Natural Disasters

New Report From FEMA Region III

Dear Recovery Partners,

I am happy to share the FEMA Region 3 Interagency Recovery Coordination Task Force COVID-19’s Impact on the Human and Social Services Sector. The human and social services sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for services has grown dramatically, at the same time as revenue losses and staff layoffs threaten the safety net so vital to those hardest hit by the economic downturn.

The authors of this report are Laura Olson, Ph.D. – COVID-19 Recovery Advisor for Mental Health and Social Services / FEMA Region 3 Interagency Recovery Coordination Task ForceAlessandra Jerolleman, Ph.D, CFM, MPA – COVID-19 Recovery Advisor for Economic Stabilization/ Both work with the FEMA Region 3 Interagency Recovery Coordination Task Force.

This report raises awareness about the challenges facing this sector that are critical to the safety and wellbeing of our citizens and the survival of the organizations that serve them. Summarizing existing and available research and analysis, the report highlights the situation in Region 3, but also provides data on the situation for the nation. The nonprofit sector has lost 8% of all employees nationwide since February 2020, while in critical fields the losses have been more severe – with 11% unemployment in educational services and 12% in social assistance.

Book Review: The Community Resilience Handbook

The Community Resilience Handbook. Editors: George B. Huff, Jr.; Edward A. Thomas; and Nancy McNabb, Publisher: American Bar Association (ABA) Publishing, Chicago, Illinois, USA. August 2020. ISBN-10 : 1641057386; ISBN-13 : 978-1641057387; Pages: 470; paperback price $79.95 & Amazon paperback price $79.30 USD.

Contributors: Anthony H. Barash, Doug Bellomo, Donna A. E. Boyce, John C. Eidleman, Jessica Grannis, Jerry Graves, Ed Hecker, George B. Huff, Jr., Alessandra Jerolleman, Elle Klein, Eric B. Kretz, John Travis Marshall, Nancy McNabb, Rachel Minnery, Lynnda M. Nelson, Keith Porter, Maureen K. Roskovski, Joe Rossi, Gretchen F. Sassenrath, Philip Schneider, Duncan Shaw, Edward A. Thomas, Andrew Vansingel, David Vaughn, Charles Wallace, John D. Wiener, and Charlie Wildman.

Keywords: community resilience, whole community preparedness, litigation, disaster legal services, international standards on resilience, business continuity, continuity management, disaster risk insurance, safe design, disaster mitigation, professionalism in design

Reviewer: Irmak Renda-Tanali, D.Sc. is a disaster risk management specialist, and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DeGruyter).

This new book is a guidebook that shares perspectives of legal experts and other professionals on the need to accelerate recovery and improve resilience over the long term, after any natural or human-induced disaster. It is written by leading thinkers in disaster preparedness and recovery planning. The authors come from the disciplines of law, architecture, engineering, insurance, and social sciences. Each chapter is written by (a) different author(s). The discussions are based on many years of practical experience and or research conducted by the authors.

The book is organized according to five parts, each covering a different feature of community resilience.

The first part is about understanding the structure of community resilience. It covers the different definitions of resilience as well as leadership, and governance in community resilience with planning and preparedness. The authors describe the concepts, perspectives, and frameworks of, and goal-setting for community resilience, based on impacts on the built environment recognized by licensed design professionals. They discuss the role of the whole community, especially the role of the attorneys using official planning documents such as the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association’s Disaster Risk Reduction Curriculum, and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology Community Resilience Project. Hence they guide community decision-makers to ask the right questions in hazard identification, vulnerability and disaster risk assessment, and develop risk-informed solutions for ensuring community resilience.

Part two focuses on community resilience leadership, planning, and support, particularly the critical role that legal service attorneys play in representing disaster survivors and serving as key partners with the private bar, bar associations, and the ABA’s Young Lawyer Division (YLD) Disaster Legal Services. They also discuss the liability of design service providers, litigation for faulty design, and the political process in answering questions like “who gets what, when, and how”.

Part three covers the topic of community resilience operations and performance. The discussion focuses on how businesses are making communities more resilient through corporate social responsibility and how public sector preparedness planning can integrate business continuity into community resilience. The discussion focuses on public-private-partnerships including insurance mechanisms, cost-benefit analysis of incentivization approaches, climate-change considerations, and the legal, economic, and moral imperatives provisioned by the U.S. Constitution for safe design.

Part four covers maintaining resilience in the whole community, with advice for civil engineers, and decision and policymakers in cost-effective but safe design and construction practices under the evolving natural hazard spectrum. A discussion on Practical Community Resilience (PRC) approach that aims to achieve life cycle disaster risk reduction and community resilience is presented from real-life/practical perspectives. A discussion on agricultural resilience through a legal perspective is also presented in this chapter.

Part five, the final part of the book, covers the validation and improvement of community resilience through training and education, building cohesive teams, and adaptation of best practices and tested frameworks.  A practical eight-step process is introduced for developing a culture of continuity for the whole community. Another discussion is on the International standards of ISO 2231-Guidelines for Planning the Involvement of Spontaneous Volunteers and ISO-22392 Conducting Peer Reviews for Disaster Risk Reduction and their applications for community resilience building in Chile with a special call on sharing best practices across the globe.

The book’s contribution is its call to action to lawyers, law firms, bar associations, as well as engineers, architects, and other design professionals as key partners in community resilience building. The main theme is keeping businesses as profitable and active partners in disaster resilience while adhering to legal and ethical standards and commonly accepted frameworks. This book, with the top-notch experts providing action-based insight into the key areas of community resilience, provides a refreshing account of better ways of understanding and building community resilience.

Strategic Stockpile Failure

From HSNW: The Strategic Stockpile Failed; Experts Propose New Approach to Emergency Preparednes. A new analysis of the United States government’s response to COVID-19 highlights myriad problems with an approach that relied, in large part, on international supply chains and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). A panel of academic and military experts is instead calling for a more dynamic, flexible approach to emergency preparedness at the national level.

New CRS Report on Disaster Relief Fund

New report (40 pages) from the Congressional Research Service: The Disaster Relief Fund: Overview and Issues.

The Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) is one of the most-tracked single accounts funded by Congress each year.Managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it is the primary source of funding for the federal government’s domestic general disaster relief programs. These programs, authorized under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.), outline the federal role in supporting state, local, tribal,and territorial governments as they respond to and recover from a variety of incidents.They take effect in the event that nonfederallevels of government find their own capacity to deal with anincident is overwhelmed.

Staffing Problems at Federal Agencies

From Politico: Biden confronts staffing crisis at federal agencies.Trump’s war on the “deep state” has decimated government. Without a fix, it could hinder the next president’s agenda.

Another take on the topic from the NYTimes: Joe Biden Will Face This Overlooked Crisis on Day 1, Members of the new administration may have to reassemble a broken government before they can begin to use it for good.