FEMA Sponsors Sustainable Communities Workshop - a Peer-to-Peer Discussion on Recovery

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Release date: 
June 27, 2011
Release Number: 

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A Sustainable Communities Recovery Workshop will be held in Greensburg, Kansas June 28 and 29. Participants will discuss long-term recovery processes, projects, successes and challenges facing communities struck by severe weather events like the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri May 22.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Long-Term Community Recovery team will coordinate the peer-to-peer workshop.

Over the past few months a series of record tornadoes, including the Joplin, Missouri event, hit Midwest and southeast states and communities, resulting in major impacts to all sectors of community life - economic development, permanent housing and infrastructure.

"As devastating as disasters are, they provide an opportunity for a community to re-envision itself, address unique challenges, find inspiration and improve upon conditions that existed prior to the disaster," said Steve Castaner, Branch Chief of FEMA's LTCR team.

The city of Greensburg, Kansas sustained 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.

The workshop will offer the opportunity for representatives from state and federal agencies as well as the city of Greensburg to discuss their roles in recovery planning.

"I'm excited about being able to network with other city, state and federal officials and understand experiences of other communities struck by disasters," said Jonathan Raiche, Planning / Community Development Specialist with the city of Joplin, Missouri.

Greensburg is believed to have the highest density of Leadership Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) buildings in the country. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification.

"There are things that a community of any size can incorporate to build back in a more sustainable manner," said Castaner.

Goals of the meeting include:

  • Exploring integration of sustainability concepts and principles, such as the EPA's Smart Growth program, into recovery plans.
  • Offering officials inspiration and ideas resulting from interagency dialogue and speaking with project champions and state and federal officials involved in community rebuilding efforts.
  • Providing state and local peer-to-peer best practices, guidance and advice to improve effectiveness and efficiency of long-term recovery efforts.

Invitees include state and local officials as well as community stakeholders from Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. Other workshop participants include current and former state and federal officials from FEMA, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rebuild Iowa Office and the state of Kansas.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss, who use a TTY, should call 800-462-7585; or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) to call 800-621-3362.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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