Editor’s Note: Veronica Taylor is a consultant specializing in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. She previously worked with The Patterson Foundation to help deepen its understanding of the disaster space. As a guest blogger, she will cover issues relevant to the disaster sector.
COAD is the other reason Sarasota County often serves as a model for the rest of Florida and the nation as a disaster resilient community.
The Sarasota County COAD is a consortium of 25+ organizations that respond in various ways to citizens impacted by disaster. For example, Red Cross, United Way, The Salvation Army, Volunteer Community Connections, Calvary Chapel Relief Ministry are all active members of COAD. Think of it as the connective tissue of social disaster recovery and the opportunity to support a holistic approach to disaster recovery and resilience. It has been my pleasure to work with the Sarasota COAD over the past several months.
When recently asked how critical COAD is to an organization on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the most critical) Ed McCrain, Emergency Management Chief of Sarasota County, stated, “9.5”. The purpose of COAD is to “meet the unmet needs of disaster response,” McCrain said.
Chris Purnell of the local Red Cross responded similarly: “Red Cross would do what it does with or without COAD, but I would give it an 8.5 to 9.5 because Red Cross only does disaster response. Most of the organizations in COAD do short-term and long-term recovery.”
The light bulb went off! COAD is the critical link between disaster response and the disaster recovery and resilience of this community. They are the organizations that strive to fulfill the unmet needs of the community before, during, and after a disaster event. They are the local organizations that will continue to support the long-term recovery, long after the Emergency Management, FEMA, SBA, and insurance resources have been exhausted.
Ultimately, the individual preparedness, leadership, support, and accountability of each organization will determine the availability and quality of resources utilized in the response to a disaster event. But it is the communication, the relationships, the understanding of functions established prior to the event that will maximize the distribution of those resources in a timely manner to the people in the affected community. A strong COAD facilitates a smooth transition from disaster response to disaster short-term and long-term recovery.
Did I mention that these organizations are volunteer organizations? They need you! Volunteer today and be prepared.