Russell C. Coile
Disaster Resistant Communities in the United States
DISASTER RESISTANT COMMUNITIES IN THE UNITED STATES
Russell C. Coile, Ph.D, CEM
Pacifi c Grove Fire Department
This memorandum is a brief status report on `disaster resistant'
communities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
announced a new program called `Project Impact: Building a Disaster
Resistant Community' on November 6, 1997. The objective of this initiative
is to encourage local communities to undertake actions that will protect
families, businesses and the community by reducing the effects of natural
The United States has had an increasing number of hurricanes, fl oods,
earthquakes, severe storms and fi res in recent years. The economic damage
and disruption of normal living has also increased. FEMA now believes
that local communities should assume more responsibility for preparing
for disasters rather than just waiting for the Federal government to step in
after a disaster to try to help the locals recover.
The basic concepts of this initiative include: Mitigation is a local issue -
there should be a partnership of government, business and private citizens.
Private sector participation is essential - disasters threaten the economic
well-being of our communities. Mitigation is a long-term effort that requires
long-term investment - all stakeholders must realize that this will be a
FEMA has taken several actions to get this program established all over
the United States. The fi rst action was to issue a `Project Impact Guidebook'
which outlines how communities might start their own local project. FEMA
suggests four steps:
1) Building Community Partnerships - forming a `Disaster Resistant
Community Planning Committee' with representatives of the local
government, state and federal disaster agencies, local business, labor,
environmental groups, and local citizens.