PHILADELPHIA – As a city of neighborhoods, Philadelphia is made up of a diverse group of communities with different needs, strengths, and abilities. When it comes to emergency preparedness, connecting residents, local officials, non-profits, and more to one another can improve each community’s resilience as much as practical efforts to reduce the risk of hazards such as fire or severe weather. Philadelphia’s success story inspired the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region III to bring together stakeholders from across Philadelphia to a Community Resilience Summit on November 29, 2018. This effort will recognize Philadelphia’s level of excellence while also drafting a national pilot program for communities across the nation to use.
Philadelphia’s efforts shows the importance of conversation and engagement across the whole community, to include voluntary agencies, private businesses, all levels of government, and beyond to make our communities more resilient. “Our efforts with all of our partners in the City has been crucial to making a difference, each neighborhood at a time,” stated Sadie Bynum, OEM Director. “From our Ready Community efforts to real world responses to incidents in Philly, our partnership with all the organizations here today is proof that we are making our communities more resilient to disasters.”
The Community Resilience Summit has two goals: to bring together stakeholders from across the City of Philadelphia to engage with one another on the accomplishments and challenges faced in engaging in resilience; and to set the stage for developing a national playbook that can be used across the country by other communities to begin or improve their own programs. “Our goal with this national playbook is to truly build a culture of preparedness across the country,” stated MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region III Regional Administrator. “Every community is different, so we are looking at Philadelphia’s success to create a template that anyone can use and adapt to their own unique needs, all so they can be better prepared for emergencies.” The playbook will be one every community, county, or municipality could use to enhance their resilience. It will look at stakeholder groups individually, how they can be brought in, and what they can do to help the process, even down to the neighborhood level.
This playbook is built upon the individual successes of the stakeholder groups participating in the Summit. Experience with diverse populations, and missions, will drive the playbooks development and ability to be adapted by each community. “We are looking at this not only as a successful engagement effort, but as an opportunity for us to take some of these best practices across the commonwealth,” stated Rick Flinn, PEMA Director. “The lessons here will help us to drive community preparedness efforts across Pennsylvania and build resiliency in each community and county.”
OEM, PEMA, and FEMA remain committed to building a culture of preparedness, including the Ready Community program, Ready PA, and FEMA’s Ready initiatives. This Summit is the first step in building a culture of preparedness and truly capturing the best practices from across the City into a national template for other communities to use.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Learn more about FEMA Region III at www.FEMA.gov/region-iii. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.