How can we understand our resources when it comes to response to disasters? What guidance is available from local, state, and federal authorities?
Checking with FEMA would be a good place to start. Also, most states that are in natural disaster type settings have emergency operations administrations that have information on resources they have available, I would check with them. I remember when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 on the Mississippi gulf coast, there was a scrambling of trying to deploy resources to the hardest hit areas. It took much longer than it should have, so there was a major reorganization in our federal and state emergency response agencies.
Post #5 makes a really good point. It seems surprising that more communities do not have some sort of preparedness plan in place. They could easily circulate the information in this month's water bill, for example, complete with instructions and advice for what sort of actions to take in terms of evacuating the area, if needed, or whatever the various scenarios call for.
These responses demonstrate very well what a problem it is to identify all the resources for disaster help, something that is the consequence of all the levels of government and non-government organizations that might be of use. If I were in the middle of a disaster, would I be able or have the time to go looking on two or three different websites for some help? Would it not be better if every community had a disaster preparedness plan and information about resources disseminated to all of its residents? In this day and age, with all of our sophistication, it seems incredible to me that this is not done.
If this question stems from an assignment to identify disaster response resources in your area, you need to contact your local agencies. In my area, the local coordinating body would be the Public Health department of the local hospital, supported by the police, fire, and sheriff departments of the county. Most states probably have a Disaster Preparedness agency as part of the state government. It may take some exploring to locate the correct resources since the names may not be the same in all areas, but the resources are out there on public record.
I agree with Post #2 and would like to add that all communities have resources at their fingertips. In the case of a disaster, most communities have and do come together to strengthen and reinforce their disaster-fighting capabilities. So knowing what resources they have to begin with can be achieved by having an audit of available response teams. Then, they could opt in to participation in a local, state, or national pool of resources should the need for a greater crisis arise.
There are many local, state, and national websites that give counsel, guidance, and additional information. We're all familiar with FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency). They have an excellent website that not only covers national disasters, but has and will help with local and state emergencies. Many of their departments will give guidance to individuals and communities needing help. And let's not overlook the states' websites. Most, if not all, have departments that address emergency response and available resources. Find your local state's website and look at all the possibilities for getting information and assistance.
It seems that the only way to understand what resources we have is to do a complete audit of what is available. Such an audit would have to look both at the obvious resources (first responders, emergency equipment) and at the less obvious resources (community organizations that could help to coordinate and/.or provide relief efforts).