The City of Cedar Rapids and Linn County are collaborating with surrounding communities and numerous service providers in a county-wide Community Resilience Project. The project will serve to build on expertise and success in times of disaster, as well as integrate new learning through establishment of an annual cross-sector process that includes anticipatory planning and exercises.
Outcomes of the project will include:
- Simulations that can be used to build response and recovery capabilities in a rapidly changing environment.
- Communication strategies that can be deployed across sectors and informal networks to enhance sharing of real time information.
- A cross sector practice that can be utilized annually to enhance a whole community approach to disaster and emergency response in Linn County.
FEMA defines a whole community approach as one where “residents, emergency practitioners, organization and community leaders, and government officials can collectively understand and assess the needs of their respective communities and determine the best ways to organize and strengthen their assets, capacities, and interests.”
“This is an important opportunity to continue to enhance partnerships and work together as a community to prepare and understand each agency’s role in a disaster,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart. “This project will allow us to incorporate findings from the City’s internal After Action Report into a broader community context.”
Planning for the project will be led by Collective Clarity consulting, and will include assembling group of community stakeholders, collection of data and insights, creation of disaster simulations, and hosting of annual cross-sector simulations.
“The derecho shined a bright light on the systemic inequities that have always existed for certain groups of people in our community,” said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker. “While some aspects of the local government response were laudable, we must own the fact that there are improvements to be made. This joint project looks to understand how we can build more resilient response capabilities for the future.”
The project includes consultation with subject matter experts, citizen engagement, and the creation of exercises that can be updated annually to capture new risk forecasts and changes in the operating environment.