Strong Foundations – What Every Disaster Plan Needs

The initial goal of a disaster plan should be to avoid the disaster. The secondary goal should be to respond effectively when a disaster cannot be avoided. To be clear, the disaster here is not a hurricane, earthquake, flood, wildfire, tornado, or even human attacker. These are simply examples of events – with the exact when and where unknown – that could lead to a disaster without careful planning and implementation. The authors in this January edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal share foreword-thinking ways to avoid or mitigate disaster by building a strong foundation before the next event. 

Two authors who take this topic literally share architectural design solutions for building resilience. The first describes how, with detailed community planning and structural design, her town stood up to 155 mph wind speeds and flooding with little damage (i.e., avoided disaster). The second shares a layered approach to physical security that considers the facility’s design and operation to thwart attacks. 

Other authors emphasize the importance of relationship building and their impact in reducing the impact when disasters do occur. For example, the industrial liaison model facilitates accurate and timely information sharing when minutes matter during a hazardous material response. In another example, professional and personal relationships collide when a responder becomes the evacuee – providing mutual aid in the field while receiving assistance at home. 

Implementing lessons learned and training are other key components for building a strong foundation. One author shares how COVID-19 and supply shortages drove the lessons learned from the Pony Express into the 21st century to get critical supplies to those in need. Meanwhile, another author takes a futuristic view of training to turn virtual reality into real-life learning. 

Disaster planning is not simply a written document but is a foundation upon which to build resilient communities. Not all disasters can be avoided, but the resulting consequences can be lessened with a comprehensive plan that equips stakeholders with the right tools and resources and mentally prepares them for what to expect. Follow these authors’ examples and build a strong foundation of community resilience by designing with a resilient mindset, liaising with key stakeholders, training through different methods, understanding others’ perspectives, acting based on lessons learned, and utilizing all available tools and resources.

Catherine L. Feinman

Catherine L. Feinman, M.A., joined Domestic Preparedness in January 2010. She has more than 35 years of publishing experience and currently serves as editor of the Domestic Preparedness Journal,, and The Weekly Brief. She works with writers and other contributors to build and create new content that is relevant to the emergency preparedness, response, and recovery communities. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University.



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