Whether you live in a coastal community or in the middle of the United States, all communities are vulnerable to some form of disaster or emergency situation. Whether it is earthquakes in the West, tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest, hurricanes in the Southeast, severe winter storms in the North, bird flu or a terrorist attack in any part of the country, all communities should preform preparation activities to protect their economies from the effects of a disaster. Communities may falsely assume that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies will be able to provide immediate support if the local economic base is severely damaged in a catastrophe. It is critical that localities – and economic development organizations in particular – develop their own capacity to respond to and recover from a disaster. IEDC has identified six broad areas of preparation activities that EDOs can be engaged in to help building resiliency into the local community. This advice was developed at a workshop of economic recovery practitioners that have personally been involved in the process of business recovery assistance following a major disaster.
Economic development professionals have the unique ability to coordinate involvement and leverage resources from the business community to carry out emergency or disaster preparation activities. Engaging the business community in mitigation efforts will help to reduce vulnerability and potential damage to the community’s critical economic assets. Economic development organizations (EDOs) also are likely to take a leadership role in facilitating job recovery and stabilizing the community’s economic base after a disaster.