"October 10, 2018: Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm Wednesday, Oct. 10 northwest of Mexico Beach, Florida, with winds of 155 mph and a pressure of 919 mb. In addition to wind speeds of more than 150 mph, the storm caused up to 14 feet of storm surge in some coastal areas and dumped up to 12 inches of rain." – Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Fortunately, Florida philanthropic funders still care.
When The Patterson Foundation’s partner, Bob Ottenhoff, CEO for Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), was asked to be a panelist at the 2019 Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN) Summit, I wondered if anyone still had an interest in the rebuilding work continuing in the Panhandle as a result of Hurricane Michael. Readers of this blog know that The Patterson Foundation (TPF) took an interest in supporting rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence, and as we have had an opportunity to stay connected with people in the Panhandle region, we are aware of the significant challenges in so many areas.
It was for the reason of sharing with Florida foundations that FPN hosted a networking breakfast at the Summit featuring Bob. The topic of discussion was, “Hurricane Michael Update.” We hoped people would attend this session to learn and understand the long-term impact of hurricanes.
If attendance at the breakfast is an indication, then yes, Florida foundations care about the impact of disasters on people, businesses, and communities. The number of foundation leaders attending exceeded the number of chairs available. While a logistical challenge, the capacity did allow for very active and engaged discussions about Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Irma (Florida Keys), Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rico), rebuilding after each, and preparing for the next disaster. What role(s) can and should foundations play? How can foundations support nonprofit organizations impacted during disasters? When should rebuilding begin, and does a disaster create an opportunity to rebuild better?
As Bob shared his wisdom and experience, having recently visited the Panhandle to coordinate CDP’s work with nonprofit organizations and the local governments, he informed the group that many communities remain decimated and rebuilding will take years.
Having an expert on the topic helped ensure a robust discussion. Having caring people with an eagerness to do something created connections, learning, and sharing.