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Jefferson part of Resilient Neighbors Network

By Staff | Aug 1, 2014

Jefferson County is one of 10 initial locations chosen to be part of a Resilient Neighbor Network. The Natural Hazard Mitigation Association launched this special program to link together grassroots communities working to become safer, disaster-resilient and sustainable.

NHMA is working with the 10 pilot communities around the United States to create a peer-to-peer sharing network, so grassroots communities can work together directly to strengthen and expand local hazard-mitigation programs

Barbara Miller, director of the Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said Wednesday that Jefferson is the “golden child of partnerships,” meaning the county works with multiple partners when preparing to deal with any type of emergency or situation. These partners include city officials, medical personnel, federal agencies and neighboring counties and other state resources to just name a few.

The initial program, begun in 2012, had ten areas forming a core group. In addition to Jefferson, the other areas include Rockford, Illinois, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Charlotte-Meckleburg County, North Carolina, the Central Shenandoah Valley in Virginia (made up of nine counties), Hillsborough County, Florida, Grays Harbor, Washington, Augusta, Georgia, Pasadena, Texas and the state of Vermont. Each area was selected because of the specific and specialized situations they must deal with including tornadoes, flooding, winter storms, etc. Added to the group in 2014 were the Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District and the Lowlander Center of Coastal Louisiana.

Having attended a recent meeting of the RNN in Colorado, Miller shared her experiences with those attending the annual business luncheon of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management at the NCTC in Shepherdstown.

Miller explained that a whole community approach, which is what is touted in Jefferson County, is not what is found everywhere. That whole community base is something the RNN group will look into for all parts of the country. In addition, Miller said focuses coming out of the recent conference include a look at climate change and adaptation due to the intensity and frequency of storms. While Miller said she was not commenting on “global warming” but rather on “climate change” as the number of and intensity of storms has been increasing.

“Friend-raising” rather than “fundraising” is another focus of the group to facilitate contact with groups and resources other than the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) that can be garnered in emergency planning. These could include the EPA. HUD and such agencies as Habitat for Humanity and other local groups. While funding is often not available, having resources to share and trade can help when facing disaster.

More information on the Resilient Neighbors Network can be found online at www.resilientneighbors.com.