Preparedness & Recovery

Long-Term Disaster Recovery Plan Coming Together

All-hazard plan includes natural and manmade disasters and looks at rebuilding in Glynn County, Georgia.

by Taylor Cooper, The Brunswick News, Ga. / February 15, 2017

(TNS) - Glynn County’s Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Natural Resources are working on a comprehensive plan for recovery and redevelopment in the event of a disaster.

The plan, which is being put together using a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will look far beyond the immediate aftermath of a disaster, according to Jay Wiggins, director of the Glynn County EMA.

“It’s an all-inclusive plan for not just right after the disaster, but in the years to come to rebuild the communities,” Wiggins said. “People always think of hurricanes, but this is an all-hazard plan. Natural or manmade, tornado or hurricane, fire or chemical spills.”

A recovery and redevelopment plan is meant to prescribe a response to every degree of disaster. Work on the plan isn’t costing the county anything but time, as it is being paid for by the NOAA’s Regional Coastal Resilience Grant.

Hagerty Consulting has been assisting the DNR and EMA to develop the plan. It also worked alongside DNR coastal resources specialist Jennifer Kline as she worked with Brantley and Chatham counties to develop their recovery and redevelopment plans.

“It’s one of those things. Matthew opened a lot of eyes. This is something we started prior to Matthew, and I wish it had been in place,” Wiggins said.

According to Hagerty representative Lisa Danner, the company has been helping the DNR to establish a plan in every coastal community, and not just in Georgia. Danner is especially committed to helping counties develop thorough plans, as she witnessed the recovery efforts in North Carolina after Hurricane Hugo. She said it took the state 12 years to fully recover.

A large part of the plan focuses on the division of responsibilities and cooperation among seven categories called recovery support functions. These RSFs are numbered one through seven: Community planning, economic, health and human services, housing, infrastructure, natural and cultural resources and volunteer organizations active in natural disasters.

Each group is composed of organizations and individuals that have a stake in that part of the community. As an example, Danner said the Brunswick Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau and local business owners, among others, would be included in the economic RSF. They would be responsible for figuring out to what extent a disaster would affect the local economy, why it is having that impact and how to get business back up and running.

The plan developed by counties will fit into a recovery and redevelopment framework at the state level. Each county’s plan is similar enough to work together and with the state with minimal adjustment.

The EMA is looking at having a final draft of the plan by next week and finalizing it by April or May, according to emergency management specialist Laura Ginn. The full plan is very complex, and Ginn said it will be available to the public on the EMA’s website once it is complete.

Wiggins welcomed the opportunity to put the plan together. They began before Matthew, but the hurricane gave them a test that highlighted the areas of disaster response the EMA is proficient in and where they need to improve. He also said the plan will be continually updated.

“This is an opportunity to sit down, pick it apart and see where it went wrong and where it went right,” Wiggins said.

Communication with the public and organizing re- entry into the county after it was reopened were two areas Wiggins wants to make sure they focus on in the plan.

“If we end up having to rebuild, we need to rebuild better. We don’t want to make the same mistakes twice, and this plan will help us identify what we can improve,” Wiggins said.

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©2017 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)

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