Navigating Disaster Preparedness in a Changing Texas
This year at our Annual Conference, we held a Disaster Preparedness and Management Focus Group to learn more about what's going on around the state with disaster preparedness and what work needs to be done.
Because of the sheer size of Texas, environmental diversity and location on the Gulf of Mexico, the state must deal with threats on a regular basis. Texas, after all, has had more declared disasters than any other state in the nation. [i]
So what was the outcome of the focus group? 19 affiliates and three community partners provided thoughts and comments on the increased awareness around disaster preparedness, their challenges responding to disasters and recommendations for how to improve preparedness for themselves and their community.
Here is a summary of the great suggestions:
- Need proactive preparedness teaching,
- Need a better understanding of insurance policies and gaps in their coverage,
- How do you prepare for communication challenges when systems become unavailable or jammed,
- Need a better understanding of community hazards,
- Planning for evacuation challenges,
- Need for neighboring communities and government to provide labor and resources for the benefit of the impacted group or community,
- How do communities guard against vulnerability when government programs fall short,
- Preparing and supporting underserved communities,
- Increased relationships with community partners,
- Role of the KTB affiliates in disaster preparation and resiliency,
- and supply kits from KTB that are better suited for the incident.
In times of disaster, we naturally look for the helpers. People that pull together to get their communities back on their feet. That's where we come in. Since education is at the core of our work here at Keep Texas Beautiful, we want to empower you with tools and resources that help answer the question: What should we do to prepare?
With this intention, the Keep Texas Beautiful website will host a disaster preparedness repository of tools and resources. Equally important will be contact information for community partners that have unique approaches to disaster recovery especially for underserved residents that are impacted most.
In the light of previous disasters, we know that recovery from disaster has not worked well for all Texans.There have been delays, and many have spent countless months battling federal and state bureaucracy in order to get back on their feet.There is always an initial outpouring of response after a disaster hits but It's neighbor helping neighbor that brings us through the rubble and into long-term recovery.
As we look to the future, our goal is not to duplicate the work already taking place with federal, state and non-government organizations.With this in mind, we hope this repository provides you with the educational tools and resources you need to be a helper, strengthen your neighborhood and continue your commitment to making our communities better places to live, work and play.
 Federal Emergency Management Agency, "Disaster Declarations by State/Tribal Government," undated, https://www.fema.gov/disasters/grid/state-tribal-government
Blog Post Written By Cheryl Price, Community Resilience Coordinator.