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The original item was published from 11/2/2023 6:20:00 PM to 11/19/2023 12:00:00 AM.

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Posted on: September 27, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Linn County Announces Emergency Plan Templates for Community Organizations

Linn County News, image of Jean Oxley Public Service Center

Linn County Sustainability and the Linn County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) announce the release of their All-Hazards Emergency Plan Template for community organizations. Since the 2020 derecho, multiple community organizations expressed interest in serving as Points of Resiliency in the community for residents during times of disaster. However, these organizations did not have emergency plans in place for themselves, highlighting the need for the Emergency Plan template. 

The Emergency Plan Template is currently only available to three community organizations participating in the pilot program. The organizations will complete the three planning phases and then submit feedback on the process to staff. The three phases include completing the All-Hazards Emergency Plan template, participating in disaster preparedness training – also known as the Community Emergency Response Team Program (CERT), and establishing the organization as a Point of Resiliency in the community. 

Linn County defines Points of Resiliency as local community-managed facilities that function to support residents through the coordination, deployment, and distribution of resources and services prior to, during, and in the wake of economic and natural disasters. Points of Resiliency work to mitigate the repercussions of disasters by reducing the burden on local emergency response teams, fostering greater community cohesion, and increasing the effectiveness of community-centered institutions and programs. Supported by local government, Points of Resiliency operate in a trusted, centralized location, focusing on community resilience practices (energy, social equity), providing stable resources on a day-to-day basis and in times of crisis.

Linn County Sustainability anticipates phase one of the pilot program will take 3-4 months to complete. Following the completion of phase one, Linn County staff will use the feedback collected to update the template for maximum efficiency before making it available to all community organizations in 2024. Organizations interested in participating in the pilot program can contact the Linn County Sustainability Department via email.

“Disasters can happen anywhere, and no one is immune to their impacts. Many residents across Linn County have witnessed this firsthand, and what we have seen is how the community pulls together to help those who are most in need after a disaster,” said Linn County EMA Plans & Exercise Officer Heather Tripp. “Linn County EMA is excited about partnering with Linn County Sustainability on the All-Hazards Emergency Plan Template and being able to offer such an invaluable resource to community organizations across Linn County.”

In addition to the need for the template, the 2020 derecho also highlighted the need for a staff person dedicated to the work of creating the template and connecting residents to resources in the community during disasters. This need led Linn County to hire its first Resiliency Coordinator, Karen Kawala. 

“Disaster preparedness is something that everyone plays a role in,” said Linn County Resiliency Coordinator Karen Kawala. “To me, the Emergency Plan template plays a crucial role in preparedness because it shows community organizations, regardless of how big or small they might be, that they can play a role in ensuring their safety and the safety of others in their communities. The template is a game changer because nothing of its kind has been done before. It allows community organizations to prepare, mitigate, and navigate a disaster before and after it hits. It allows them to positively affect their organization and the community.”

The Resiliency Coordinator works to help reduce barriers and improve access to resources during times of disaster, helps implement sustainable values in County programs, plans, and policies, partners with the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to enhance capacity through disaster response and sustainable solutions, and oversees the efficient implementation of resiliency practices in Linn County.

Additional information about the Linn County Sustainability Department and the All-Hazards Emergency Plan template can be found on the Linn County website, LinnCountyIowa.gov.

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