IntroductionThe intent of Assessing Disaster Preparedness was to have an honest and open dialogue with key stakeholders across different sectors about the level of preparedness in the Bay Area to respond to a major natural hazard such as an earthquake. For example, BAREPP, (Bay Area Regional Earthquake Preparedness Project) existed in various forms between 1983 and 2002.
One weakness with the government is the lack of information within and outside about level of preparedness and enhancements to preparedness due to lack of standardized metrics and measures.
It is widely understood that the non-profit sector is crucial to the survival and well-being of the vulnerable, underprivileged and underserved communities who would be most affected in the event of a major disaster in the Bay Area. The discussion began with presentations by two non-profit organizations, both providing different perspectives on disaster preparedness. Ana-Marie Jones, Executive Director of Collaborative Agencies Responding to Disasters (CARD), followed with a plea to revisit current messaging and methods around disaster preparedness. The participants also recognized the vital role of faith communities in preparing for disasters.
Estimates suggest that over 80% of the productive resources required for disaster response and recovery are controlled by the private sector.
Peter Ohtaki, Director of Business Executives for National Security (BENS), spoke to their model of partnerships between the private sector and the government around issues of disaster preparedness and national security. Colin Lacon, President and CEO of Northern California Grantmakers, spoke to the role of philanthropy in preparing for disasters.
Throughout the conference and in the afternoon discussion around preparing for disasters five core themes emerged, around which the group coalesced and formed consensus.
LeadershipCurrently there is no constituency for emergency management, which was referred to by a participant as a 'policy without a public.' While most people in the Bay Area agree that disaster preparedness is important, it is not an issue that is at the top of the lists of politicians. MessagingCurrent emergency management messaging focuses on the negative, or advocating preparedness, in order to prevent negative results such as the loss of property or life. All agreed that the media is an important constituent in any initiative on preparedness and resiliency. It was agreed that any initiative should include a component that objectively assesses and baselines current levels of preparedness and is able to chart progress from it.


Kathleen Tierney, Director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado, formally opened the conference by reviewing the results of the previous day's discussions among the most prominent academics on disaster preparedness and management . Many in the room felt that emergency management and disaster preparedness were a 'policy without a public', and as a consequence did not get the prominence or importance that they deserved from city or state officials. However, there is considerable skepticism about the inherent capability of these organizations to function effectively if a disaster strikes. Her view was that using fear to urge people to prepare for disasters was a disempowering and ineffective approach.
Further, many participants felt that having a common framework and definition of disaster preparedness, and a common metric to assess preparedness and delineate gaps could stimulate funding and collaboration.
It was agreed that at the current time, no one could speak to the level of resiliency or preparedness in any community in the United States as there are no common tools or metrics. While it was agreed that there is a great deal of activity and thinking around disaster preparedness, different stakeholders often have limited visibility to the activities of others.
In addition there were representatives from various city governments and national disaster preparedness organizations and emergency preparedness accreditation organizations (see Participant List). The conference was sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation and PG&E as an initial component of a project that seeks to provide an objective, third-party view of the landscape of disaster preparedness. Among the activities were two reviews of the preparedness metrics literature conducted by Jeannette Sutton and Dr. Nonetheless, the group agreed that it was unreasonable to expect the government to be the sole provider of disaster response and recovery services and had mixed views on the level of preparedness and effectiveness of the office of emergency services at the city, region, state and national levels. While many organizations in this sector have begun to create business continuity and disaster preparedness plans, many others have not. CARD is built on the concept that preparing for disasters is an essential part of every person's responsibility to themselves, their organizations and their families. It is clear that there needs to be a realistic and achievable strategy for incorporating faith communities in any local disaster preparedness initiative. He cited this conference and other initiatives under the aegis of Northern California Grantmakers, The San Francisco Foundation and the United Way, which are all directed at gaining knowledge about gaps in disaster preparedness so that philanthropy can focus on addressing these gaps before a disaster, and also understand how to best use resources immediately after a disaster.


As a consequence, there is a lack of transparency around the allocation of resources, previously directed toward preparing for natural disasters.The experts agree that there needs to be an emphasis on advocacy around this subject and a strategy to elevate the subject on the agendas of local and national governments. Several participants felt that messaging around disaster preparedness could be made more positive by focusing on community resiliency and economic development. There was wide recognition of the need for the creation of a coordinating organization to aggregate efforts, establish metrics and standards, facilitate cooperation and partnerships and advocate for disaster management policy change. Conference participants were selected through discussions with their peers who identified them as leaders and experts in the disaster management community. It is hoped that this exercise would lead to proposed ways to assess preparedness, so that gaps, if any, can be funded by the philanthropic community prior to the onset of a large-scale disaster. Some members of the group felt strongly that there was an absence of strong leadership and that the subordination of FEMA to the Department of Homeland Security and the focus on terrorism had severely affected the nation's capability to respond to natural disasters.
Focusing on preparedness for one hazard in lieu of another creates missed opportunities for leveraging investment and optimizing community resiliency. These reviews summarized existing measures of preparedness at the household level, organization level and community level using both primary and secondary data. However, it was also clear that many felt that the Bay Area was more prepared than other regions in the country due to frequent natural disaster exposure and experience in responding to those incidents.Richard Eisner, Regional Administrator, Southern Region Branch of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, reflected on his career and experience in hazards management. EMAP starts with a self-assessment online which is followed by an on-site visit from five assessors who conduct a week-long review and audit of disaster preparedness plans and then make recommendations. He reminded the group about relevance of population diversity and the inabilities of the system to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations in disaster scenarios.
Tierney concluded her presentation by providing a framework for measuring disaster preparedness that could be used across sectors and levels of analysis with existing indicators and instruments and included eight dimensions.
He reiterated the critical importance of local preparedness and spoke to the effectiveness of various models of community participation in disaster planning that had emerged in the past and dissolved due to the lack of funding and political will.



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