Nongovernmental and Voluntary Organizations need more funds for disaster preparedness efforts, especially funds to hire staff who are fully devoted to disaster preparedness tasks!
I have represented my agency at NYC Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) meetings since October 2007. A lack of funds for disaster preparedness is absolutely a barrier for the NYC disaster preparedness community. We have lost some key players who closed their disaster preparedness programs over the past few years due in part to a lack of funding for disaster preparedness. And few NYC voluntary agencies have staff who are fully devoted to disaster preparedness tasks. For most of our agencies, disaster preparedness tasks are assigned to one staff member who is also responsible for a slew of other non-disaster-related activities. Disaster preparedness is a full time job in itself, and when juggling this work with other demands that are typically "more urgent" for the agency, disaster preparedness tasks tend to fall to the background.
Funds will flow after a major disaster, but disaster response agencies need to be prepared, need to plan, need to collaborate PRIOR to a disaster in order to ensure for a timely, effective, efficient, and compassionate response. We need funding for fully devoted disaster preparedness staff in order to make this "best practice" a reality.
- Julianne Pannelli, NYC