As all eastern Iowans know, when disaster strikes, prompt response is critical. But when it comes to planning for the unthinkable, there are obvious challenges. A new opportunity through the Community Foundation, called the Disaster Preparation Project, has worked to facilitate such planning in communities throughout Linn County.
Because Cedar Rapids experienced—and recovered from—a flood in 2008, the Community Foundation was invited to participate in the Philanthropic Preparedness, Resilience, and Emergency Partnership (PPREP). Through this group of Midwestern community foundations, which meets regularly to share and discuss strategies for disaster preparedness and recovery, the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation received a grant to implement the new project. The grant is supported by PPREP, a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.
Earlier this year, project manager Carrie Walker met with community leaders to hear their questions, concerns and priorities surrounding disaster preparedness. Non-metro communities had the option of exploring those issues in a workshop.
On August 8, four northern Linn County communities came together for a workshop in Walker, Iowa. The group worked through disaster scenarios, discussed existing and desired resources, and identified ways to build resilience.
Shelley Annis, City Administrator for Central City, identified several key takeaways from the workshop. “Have a plan,” she said. “Even if it’s just going to collect dust, have a plan and be ready to use it.”
Communities can now apply for a $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation to develop a plan or build their preparedness in other ways. Central City plans to improve electrical infrastructure so generators can be connected to essential facilities in the event of power loss. Walker is hoping to purchase weather radios for government buildings and local businesses.
Walker City Clerk Connie Helms left the workshop feeling inspired. “It’s about the people,” she said. “Not just rebuilding the town, but serving people as individuals.” Connie and other community leaders discussed ways that small communities could aid one another and how they might utilize local groups and clubs.
For more information in the Disaster Preparation Project, visit gcrcf.org/about/community-leadership.