Before 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.
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.