I am eager to update everyone on a major project undertaken by the DHS Center titled “Building Resiliency with Diverse Communities.” The project is a multi-year assessment and training pilot in Miami-Dade County, FL that will assist marginally affiliated communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. It does this by leveraging their resources and filling in their gaps of knowledge and experience.
The pilot project has two phases:
Because this is a pilot project, it does not stop with Miami-Dade County. Our goal is to create a process and training model that will be used in the country’s other urban areas which historically have had a high number of disasters and whose population includes a significant number of communities that are only marginally connected with emergency management systems.
Earlier this year and as part of this project, a study which compiled the status of the research on the efforts of FBCOs in emergency preparedness and response efforts was released, "Faith-Based and Community Organizations’ Participation in Emergency Preparedness and Response Activities." The Center, working in partnership with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, commissioned the study to identify research efforts that assess FBCOs’ capacity and collaborative networks related to emergency management. The research shows a broad range of approaches to increase FBCO engagement and coordination identified in the research and policy literature that can help guide future program development. The study also found that while most of FBCOs have capacity to aid vulnerable populations during a disaster, some are not well positioned to do so currently.
I’m excited about the project because it will improve opportunities for recovery from disasters of already vulnerable individuals and families. Even more, due to better preparation, it may even save lives. Often, the resources and needs of Americans living on the margins are not suitably included in emergencies and I believe that this project can help change this reality.
David Myers is the Director for the Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security