7 Tips for Leaders Participating in Long-Term Recovery Committees to Rebuild Community after Natural Disasters
The Institute originally published this post on February 10, 2017, on the ICTG Blog. It has been updated.
Rebuilding a community after natural disaster is no easy feat. It takes patience, perseverance, organizational skills, teamwork, and strong leadership to get things done. For leaders participating in Long-Term Recovery (LTR) Committees, this is especially true.
Before the LTR group begins, first a community faces the essential tasks of immediate response, search and rescue, and assessing the full scope of damage. Communities often will create Family Assistance Centers or Local Assistance Centers for residents hopefully to reconnect with family members who are missing, or to gain access through a one-stop shop of essential resources. Once the first phase of response is complete, LTR groups can help communities leverage their assets most effectively, reduce the duplication of efforts, and meet unmet needs.
ICTG’s Senior Advisor for Congregations, FEMA, and VOAD Relations Harvey Howell knows what it takes to make a successful LTR group. Harvey has volunteered on 100+ disaster relief deployments, covering over 27 states. His focus has been on providing training to communities on disaster preparation, response, and recovery.
Below, Harvey shares seven tips for leaders to keep in mind when helping their communities rebuild after severe loss from natural disasters:
#1- It's a marathon, not a sprint. As soon as possible, establish a steady pace for the long journey rather than a mad dash. This will prevent burnout.
#2- To accomplish #1, spend time getting organized. This is especially true when faced with the pressure to urgently "do something". Spending time getting organized will be more effective in the long run.
#3- Each of us brings different strengths, aptitudes, and gifts. Remember not everyone fits the same role, and a good long-term recovery team will incorporate people with a range of abilities.
#4- Authority matters in bringing order amid chaos and kindness goes a long way in creating trust and building reliable relationships.
#5- The work of every committee, no matter how simple or detailed, menial or highly skilled, is accomplished by the team – more than just one person. In addition to accomplishing the task at-hand, LTR Committee work affords opportunity to share burdens, practice collaboration between organizations that might otherwise not have reason to come together, and observe future leadership in development.
#6- The touchstone to #5 is to encourage as many participants as possible to engage in the work of long-term recovery, even if one could do the task. If one person is standing in a doorway, no one else can get into the room. Encourage participation from as wide a circle as possible.
#7- Well-written minutes for LTR meetings are among the most encouraging documents an LTR Committee can produce. They can demonstrate progress, provide snapshots of the journey, give community-building messages, and HELP FUNDERS who want to be part of the story.
You can learn more about LTR guidelines here.
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