by Russ Nelson
It’s no secret that building ties and bonds with others make you as an individual more resilient. You have additional resources that you are able to draw upon when times are tough. Team abilities will always be stronger than the individual components alone, but how can we extrapolate into the community or business setting? What does this look like?
I heard a story before from someone about what happens when we think of strengths as only positive or negative, and fail to see the bigger picture. Sometimes vulnerabilities are actually strengths in disguise… A community existed that was a mix of young couples and seniors who had lived in the area for a long time. During a community vulnerability assessment, the consideration of these sometimes single elderly citizens was identified as a sector o the community that would require extra assistance during a disaster. The younger population, however, was noted to be “in the loop” due to their involvement in social media, and other community-focused initiatives. They were identified as a strength to the area, and as an asset. Cut to years later, a power outage during winter storms reduces the ability of the local government to respond to the population isolated and cut off from power, supply routes, etc. The once identified resilient youth in the community did not have access to basic resources. The “vulnerable” senior population, however, was minimally impacted due to traditional skills such as canning, and other food preservation methods (not to mention having wood fireplaces with more than enough wood available for extra heat). The younger population of the community traded their skills such as shovelling snow and helping out with daily tasks for the much-needed resources like food and warmth.
Sure, this is an anecdotal story, but it does highlight the idea that vulnerability and resilience are only concepts applicable to a single point in time, and that perceived weaknesses may actually be strengths in disguise. Vice versa, strengths in one area may overshadow weaknesses in other areas. It is important to have relationships more than anything else, to cover all aspects of vulnerability during a disaster. Community teamwork such as the example provided is one way to accomplish this. Preparedness activities can, and should, include the immediate resources and people you may call on in time of extreme distress. Do you know your neighbour? Do you know how they can help you?
Watch this (non-sponsored) video, and let DisasterPlan.ca know the types of neighbourhood activities you do, or will start, to get to know your neighbourhood strengths and vulnerabilities!
Will your start monthly or annual community BBQs or events to discuss DisasterPlans? Will you use a shared google doc to build a community phonebook, or fan-out list? What about emergency notifications, or a community group disaster WhatsApp chat? These tools discussed BEFORE a disaster strikes can be the best DisasterPlan you have when all else fails!
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