Extreme event preparedness and response for small nonprofits

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From conversations at the 2016 Watsonville TechFest


A guide for community organization preparedness for and response to extreme events.

Business as it is now

Large businesses have continuity plans, backups, etc. But often, smaller organizations don't test their backups (and that's if those backups exist!)

Participant works at a 10 million/year orga, but when having the conversation about business continuity, it was "we'll do the best we can." How deeply we stack our resources -- we do have an old server to store things on? Do we have a backup 3G/LTE router in storage. No plan because we'll wing it.

This is standard fare for most groups, and they generally do ok, but we can always do better...

Communities already have so many issues. For instance, the participant's communities focus more on preservation than on preparedness or what to do collectively. This even shows up in the ongoing issues of the community - known safety net components like food banks are already lacking in the neighborhood. All food is shipped in. As a community, we don't know where food would be in order to distribute it equitably.

He knows 4 neighbors in a pretty dense neighborhood. Know the local stores. How much water is in my rain bins? Did a I fill the tub?

==Geography matters

Issue of personas. If a catastrophe were to happen at work, he would worry about "is my assistant ok?" and then walk the 5 mile walk home. Throw out the rendezvous point etc.

What people would come to see you about, tat relates to your day-to-day?

  • transportation in LA is VERY different. People don't walk places. You're not easy disastnce from those convening places.
  • Parks and plazas.
  • Local parishes would have convening, but many people don't live where they worship.

Geographies are very different. SF where people would have to get over the Bay. In LA it's about where we go (not where we live). In NYC, everything is in your neighborhood.

The missing piece

Business continuity etc documentation is for enterprise (large, flagship, multi-site things). There isn't such a thing for small businesses or nonprofits.

What is lacking? Support, will, prioritization? Most of us don't like to think about catastrophe. People think "hopefully that won't happen" instead.

Role of law enforcement?

How did leadership in the community continue thorugh the response?