Before the Storm cover imageBefore Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast and focused the nation's attention on the suffering it inflicted, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was launching the Emergency Preparedness Demonstration to understand the barriers that prevent disadvantaged communities from being aware of and prepared for disasters.

Disadvantaged households, such as low-wealth families, children and older adults, people with disabilities, and racial and ethnic minorities, suffer disproportionately during major disasters, be they hurricanes, floods, or industrial accidents.

FEMA entered into a cooperative agreement with MDC to manage this project in partnership with the University of North Carolina's Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) and Texas A&M University's Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center. The project went into seven areas affected by Hurricane Isabel in 2003 (Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia).

Working in individual communities, we listened to residents' needs, found ways to connect them with emergency managers and private resources, and developed this set of tools communities and emergency managers anywhere can use to nurture connections and understanding.

Below is a compendium of disaster preparedness, response and recovery principles and practices we developed based on insights gained during the EPD and from resources collected across the country.

disaster Planning for Vulnerable Populations

Before the Storm: MDC's Emergency Preparedness Demonstration Connects Socially Vulnerable Communities with Help

Integrating Needs and Building Capabilities of Disadvantaged People in Local Disaster Plans

A Guide for Integrating Needs and Capabilities of Disadvantaged People into Local Disaster Plans

Community Based Vulnerability Assessment: A Guide to Engaging Communities in Understanding Social and Physical Vulnerability to Disasters

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices

Although these practices are often termed ''best'' practices, we've defined them as "promising" practices — a term that captures the unique circumstances of each community and the special context that help make these practices successful. It is up to local residents, government agencies, faith-based organizations, and nonprofits of any community to develop disaster response services that fit their particular needs and priorities. 

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Animals

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Children 

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Evacuation

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Homeless

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Immigrants

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Individual and Family Preparedness

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Individuals with Special Medical Needs

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Low-Income Families and Communities

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Migrant Workers

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Mobile Home Residents

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Mobility Challenged Individuals

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Older Adults

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Renters

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Sheltering

When Disaster Strikes - Promising Practices - Tourists and Newcomers

Related Project

Emergency Preparedness in Socially Vulnerable Communities