Ten Tips to Prepare You When Disaster Strikes Your Community

The following post are my notes from a webinar this past Fall held by Institute for Organization Management faculty member Diane Probst, IOM, CCE on the title of this blog. 

She started out by stating the disaster can be anything from a major storm, their experience, to an active shooter, etc.

She talked about the two stages that come with every disaster:

The Crisis Phase

  • Your community is flooded with people to help.  Government and volunteers from across the country will show up.  It’s all about cleanup, money, and getting the community going again.

The Long-term Recovery Phase

  • You will probably need to hire people who can help you, identify sources of funding, develop a plan and communicate what you’re doing with your community, just to name a few.

She went on to talk about the 10 tips or “Lessons Learned” from their experience.

  1. Leaders stepping up to lead - stay in your lane.  Do what you’re good at.
  2. Unified “one voice” communication – stick to the facts and communicate on a regular basis.
  3. GoFundMe – in their case, they went from $2K to $1.4 million in 60 days in unsolicited funds.  The key is to have a process in place to receive and disburse those funds.  And who will decide where those funds go.
  4. The Chamber – stay laser focused on your role and you will persevere.  They also celebrated business re-openings to build support in the community.
  5. Social Media Whirlwind – the key here is to have a running list of what you’re doing so you can track what you’re saying.  It’s also key to put together a great communications team that can execute your plan.  This is how you will tell you story on how your community is opening up for business.
  6. The Disaster after the Disaster – you need to identify where you will house all the donation items that are sent your way (think truckloads of water, etc.).  Diane talked about how the faith-based organizations are a good resource for you to tap into and help in the phase of your recovery.
  7. Economic Revitalization Must be Quick – identify and promote the economic activity that’s going on in your community.  They focused on back to business activities (concert, TV and radio appearances, etc.).
  8. Failure to plan is a plan for failure – a long-term recovery plan is so important.  This plan needs to identify who will do what when it comes to implementation.
  9. Find Healthy Happiness – take care of yourself, physically, spiritually, and mentally.  Embrace the process of getting your community back to business.  She couldn’t emphasize enough, “Take Care of Yourself.”
  10. Mistakes & Move On – be confident on your work even when others might doubt you, don’t let that affect you, you will weather the storm.

Her final comment: Tell Your Story!

For resources on disaster management click HERE for how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can help.