Coalition Considers Role in Disaster Aid
(TNS) – Emergency planners want the Johnson County Cares coalition to serve as the umbrella organization for the countywide Community Organizations Active in Disaster group.
Jeremy VanWey, Warrensburg Fire Department’s fire and emergency prevention, and Johnson County Emergency Management Executive Director Gloria Michalski said the COAD group would help coordinate service delivery to residents in a major emergency.
“It’s hard to keep tabs on knowing who is doing what” after a disaster, Michalski said.
The COAD, she said, will let her “know who and what the agencies are and who I can call on for what.”
VanWey said the coalition – comprised of representatives of churches, civic and social service agencies – is best to head the COAD since the agencies would provide most disaster services.
“The individuals who will need help after a disaster are people you’re already serving,” he said.
The COAD would include government organizations, nonprofits, faith-based groups and the business community.
Michalski said the group would help provide services federal and state emergency agencies do not, such as food and shelter, and private property debris removal.
VanWey said the community “may have to take care of ourselves” for the first 72 hours after a disaster before state and federal assistance arrives.
He said the agencies also may have to provide long-term assistance after government help leaves.
The COAD would be comprised of groups that use the “four Cs” – cooperation, communication, coordination and collaboration – as guiding principles to help the community respond to and recover from disasters, he said.
Aren Koenig, community preparedness and resiliency project manager with Catholic Charities, Kansas City, said she works with organizations statewide to develop COADs “to prepare and position yourselves” for an emergency.
In an undeclared disaster, she said, local social service groups and government entities respond in an undeclared emergency, she said.
“The more visibility you have in the community, the more help you can provide,” she said, adding, “A lot of grants depend on showing the support of organizations.”
The coalition will identify services and service gaps, she said.
Koenig said she is helping emergency management with a community assessment to identify support services.
VanWey said training would be available to help the group understand their role in disaster recovery.
Advisory Board member Suzy Latare said she would contact all board members to get a consensus on the request.
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