We are often told to be prepared for an emergency by having 72 hours worth of supplies on hand. Equally important is getting to know and build relationships with your neighbours.
In fact, these relationships are essential during an emergency and in the days following an extreme weather event when emergency personnel are overwhelmed. During an emergency your first responder will likely not be a first responder; it is more likely that a neighbour will be the first person on the scene.
Recognizing the need for these connections during extreme weather events, the Lighthouse Project piloted three models for establishing neighbourhood-based resiliency hubs or networks. These models built on existing assets in the community; starting with who was already interested emergency preparedness, response and recovery. Each model was different in its approach; one started with municipal government, another with community organizations and the third with a group of interested residents. All three shared the goal of wanting to create safe places, ‘resiliency hubs,’ for people to gather, connect and access supports during an extreme weather event.
Despite the differences in the approach to each of the pilot sites, similar key learnings emerged:
- Extreme weather emergencies are becoming more frequent, we all need to prepare
Building the neighbourhood-based social connections and resilience hubs should become a part of every municipality’s emergency management plan.
- Creating an emergency response strategy requires time
Engaging multiple people in the conversation takes time but is integral to building the networks essential for disaster response and recovery.
- Collaboration is essential for building an effective, actionable strategy
Building a robust climate resilience strategy requires a collaborative funding approach between all levels of government, insurance companies, community foundations and others.
- Faith Groups play an integral role in Resilience Hubs
As familiar landmarks in vulnerable neighbourhoods, faith based organizations have the facilities and networks that make them important catalysts for 'resilience hubs.'
- Testing models and sharing learning are catalysts for developing best practices
Connecting communities across the nation to share best practices and lessons learned in ‘neighbour-helping neighbour’ emergency response models is key to expanding the work.
Each model had unique strengths and challenges; and, each one also successfully enhanced their neighbourhood’s resilience to extreme weather events. Their success is encouraging! It demonstrates that it doesn’t matter whether you are starting at the municipal, organizational or resident level, if you start with who is already at the table, resilience is possible!
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