For Community Leaders
As leaders/ organizations of the community (e.g. Rural Representatives and Mutual Aid Committee of households), you may want to do something to help when you see how disasters hit your community. Your input is valuable given your frequent contact with people in the community allows you to have an insight in their needs. Here are what you can do to facilitate community recovery through thoughtful decision making as a community leader 。
Understand the Goal of Community Disaster Recovery and Decision Making
The goal of community disaster recovery is to speed up the recovery process, prepare for upcoming disasters, and take the opportunity to reconsider future plans . When you are to make a decision for the community, ask yourself the questions below. Positive answers indicate a higher likelihood of a worthwhile decision.
- Does the decision take into account the immediate needs of your community?
- Is the decision cost effective, i.e. money and time efficient?
- Does the decision enable good coordination, i.e. can it reduce duplicated effort?
- Can the decision enable sustainable recovery efforts?
- Can the decision promote inclusiveness, i.e. taking care of different parties in your community?
As soon as you have made a decision, you need to take a few steps to translate it into action. It is essential to have an accurate knowledge of community needs and assets, so that you can minimize the waste of effort and provide precise solutions to post-disaster conditions. Below are some important components of the planning process you may take into account in your initial action plan  .
I. Get community members' voices heard
If your community did not prepare a recovery plan before the disaster, you need to come up with one as soon as possible. It may be a good idea to organize a committee to work on the recovery plan. Anyone with good knowledge of the characteristics and needs of different subgroups in your community, such as leaders of local civic organizations, elected officials (e.g. District Council Members) can be invited to join the committee. You may also consider direct outreach and observation to what your community needs as well. Try to encourage the public to share their views such that the plan can better address the needs of a wider variety of residents.
II. Let data speak
Some websites such as data.gov.hk provide information on local demographics and local facilities, of which you can make use to identify the needs and demographic trends of your community. For instance, if there is an aging problem in the community, you may need to incorporate the needs of elders and utilize local facilities such as community centers in the plan.
III. Take care of people's mental well-being
The opinion collection period in recovery planning is more than mere need assessment. It is also a means to show care and connect to the affected population . In case you notice the benefits of mental health support to the community, you may consider respective feasible measures — organize activities to promote citizens' mutual support, distribute psycho-educational materials, deliver information on professional services and encourage individuals to seek professional assistance where necessary 。
IV. Rethink about the future of the community
Recovery stretches beyond the resumption of previous conditions and operations; it shall allow advancement to a better future. For instance, some communities in the U.S. took the opportunity to embark on their future and infrastructure development post-disaster, formulating social, recreational, and environmental goals 。
V. Prepare for future disasters
Recovery planning can also include building community resilience to reduce the potential impact of future disasters. You may refer to Preparedness: For Community for more details.
VI. Put your plan into practice and evaluate
A well-thought plan can still meet unforeseeable challenges and emerging needs during its implementation. Be flexible and keep evaluating the plan to enable on-going adjustments, thereby making the plan even more effective.
For Community Residents
Why should you engage in community recovery process?
After a disaster, everyone in the community expects their life to get back on track as soon as possible. But the post-disaster restoration involves more than cleaning up trash and debris, or fixing broken glasses and destroyed facilities — the social connections and shared values of the community are among the things to restore . Governmental efforts aside, you also play a crucial role. After all, the recovery of community exerts immediate influence on your way of life . Individual and family participation in the community recovery process matters.
What can you do?
In the short run, you can help restore the hygiene and daily routine by volunteering to clean up the neighborhood. In the long run, community rebuilding provides you with the chance to rethink about how you want your community to be in the future. You can contribute by sharing your views in the recovery planning process. For example, it is common for some American communities to take the opportunity to voice out how they would like their communities to be more kid-friendly, elderly-friendly or greener .