After a disaster, a community’s recovery is influenced by its capacity to organize, plan a path forward, and gather the required resources to execute the plan. Communities and local governments are often forced to make complex decisions involving issues ranging from business reinvestment and unemployment to building long-term resilience. But, at times of stress, with cleanup operations underway, urgent needs to address and people living in makeshift housing, it can be difficult to draw a blueprint. Many communities lack the resources and experience needed to address the planning, decision-making, and recovery management processes that lead to an efficient, inclusive and sustainable recovery.
The Community Planning/Capacity Building Recovery Support Function helps bring communities together to focus on their long-term recovery needs and develop projects and strategies that address those needs. Together with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM), and the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Community Planning/Capacity Building RSF reviewed all Florida counties to determine the severity of impact from Hurricane Irma and potential existing capacity gaps.
Based upon the results of that review, teams of experts from FEMA and other federal agencies were assembled and dispatched to the four counties that sustained the most damage: Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Monroe counties. The Coordinated Place Based Recovery Support teams include representatives from the Community Planning and Capacity Building RSF, FEMA Hazard Mitigation, and Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation. A Sustainability Adviser and Unified Federal Review Adviser are coordinating with the teams.
The teams have embedded in the counties they are serving, working closely with local leaders, focusing on community-driven solutions that emphasize environmental protection, mitigation, and resiliency. They will assist the counties to develop an expedited and organized post disaster decision-making process. Having specialists from different federal agencies working directly with county staff allows potential issues to be addressed at the beginning of a project, speeding assistance.
The Community Planning/Capacity Building RSF is facilitating meetings with subject matter experts and connecting Florida partners to relevant agencies and organizations to assist recovery programs, initiatives, and projects. This will enable communities to develop the capability needed to both manage long-term recovery projects and prepare for future disasters, thereby reducing risk and saving tax dollars. Additional information about rebuilding communities after a disaster can be found in the Community Recovery Management Toolkit.