Mount St. Helen’s erupted 30 years ago today – I happen to remember this as we visited family soon afterwards and I distinctly remember ash floating around, burned out car husks, and a general sense of unease and fear. HOAs and PMCs know full well the importance of prepping their community for disaster but what happens after? The cleanup, the recovery, the rebuilding. Let’s look at some ways that HOAs and PMCs can prep for the days and weeks after a crisis.
It all starts, of course, with a strong community. Neighbors who know each other and look out for one another will make any post disaster recovery much smoother. Strong leadership is also critical. Here are a few ways that PMCs and HOAs can prepare for the post-disaster recuperation.
Communicate: Start by creating a climate where your residents expect and engage with your communications like bulletins and other announcements. You can see who has viewed your bulletins and adjust the content delivery time to try and get a better open rate. Or simply, check in with that person IN person. Find out if they’re having trouble accessing your site or aren’t receiving text messages as they should.
Organize. After the immediate cleanup, mobilize your residents to build each other up. But be diligent in your organization. Set up one place where volunteers can go and where local or national aid groups can drop off bottled water or other items. Then begin to tap those local folks who have offered to help. This can be insurance meetings led by knowledgeable residents or local insurance company reps or grant writing workshops.
Support: Your local economy will obviously be affected by any kind of disaster. Remind residents that supporting local businesses will inject immediate economic energy into your community. Find out who is open and operating and share the knowledge. Those businesses might also be willing to pitch in much needed donations like bottled water, toiletries, and other necessities.
Of course, the best way to recover from any disaster is to have a well-laid plan in place long before crisis hits. Once you feel like the worst is over and healing has begun in your community, take a survey of residents and find out what worked and what didn’t. Get boots-on-the-ground feedback from the folks in the trenches. Develop a lessons learned document and then use that to prepare for the future. You hate to think something terrible would happen again, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.