The Chester County Long Term Recovery Committee was established in November, 2013. Following a disaster, short-term needs of food, clothing, and shelter are provided through response organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Once the response phase ends, the impacted community and its residents need to return to a new normal state of living. This is the essence of the recovery phase.
While response is coordinated through Emergency Management, recovery needs to be a community based initiative. This helps to ensure that the most vulnerable residents are supported throughout the recovery process that may last for months or years. This community based framework cannot be a government entity due to conflict of interest concerns and the ability to secure donations. By forming the Long Term Recovery Committee, the County can maximize the utilization of available resources, avoid duplicating assistance to individuals, and manage the delivery process as needs change over time. Trained disaster case managers will help individuals navigate existing human service programs.
The Committee includes representatives from the private sector, social service organizations, community health organizations, food providers, faith-based organizations, civic organizations, housing agencies, and the insurance, financial and legal industry.
Through the Committee, a resident would present a need. A case manager would work with the resident to understand the scope of the need and then work with the community organizations to fulfill that need. During Hurricane Sandy a citizen called explaining they had a fallen tree on their property but did not have the financial resources to hire a tree removal company. The County worked with Team Rubicon, a VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) group comprised of military Veterans, who was able to send a chainsaw crew to remove the tree. If we had a large number of these requests the County would have not been able to keep up.
Developing the Long Term Recovery Committee will ultimately make Chester County more disaster resilient. It will allow the County to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of our residents by having a structured process and relationships already in place. It will increase the potential of identifying individuals who are the most vulnerable and insuring that the needed resources reach them in their time of need. Also through this coordinated effort, there will be an opportunity to address mitigation issues in hopes of lessening the potential for disaster moving forward.
Chester County Department of Emergency Services has developed relationships with community partners to improve communication and coordination. We have provided numerous trainings to increase emergency preparedness for organizations and the individuals they serve. Working with existing organizations, we have been able to increase the community social service and volunteer agencies level of preparedness and capacity, which has positioned the agency and Chester County in a better situation to be able to respond to and recover from disasters.
For more information about the Long Term Recovery Committee, or if your organization would like to join, please call Janet Zeis at 610-344-5014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long Term Recovery Committee Participating Organizations:
2-1-1 SEPA / United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern NJ
American Red Cross - EPA
Brandywine Health Foundation
Brandywine Valley SPCA
Calvary Chapel Chester Springs
Chester County Community Foundation
Chester County Department of Emergency Services
Chester County Department of Human Services
Chester County Economic Development Council
Chester County FIRST
Chester County Food Bank
Chester County Health Department
Chester County SCORE
Eastern PA United Methodist Church Disaster