189 State of Disaster: Building resilience with Todd De Voe

189 State of Disaster: Building resilience with Todd De Voe

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When you hear the word “resilience,” you might think of a business that withstood a financial crisis. Or an athlete who overcame a serious injury to lead his team to a championship.

Examples of resilience are all around us. Look at Oprah Winfrey. She overcame a childhood of poverty and abuse to become an iconic talk show host and one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. Or Steve Jobs, who was famously ousted from the company he co-founded but returned years later to lead it to even greater heights. Or Malala Yousafzai, who survived a gunshot wound after advocating for female education in Pakistan and won a Nobel Peace Prize. Or of course, so many of the stories we share in The Salvation Army’s Caring Magazine.

In the context of disaster relief, resilience refers to a community’s ability to bounce back from a disaster. As in Malala’s case, it’s not just about surviving the initial event, but about having the capacity to recover and even flourish in the aftermath. Being resilient doesn’t mean everything goes back to exactly how it was before. It’s about adapting to new situations and finding ways to thrive in a changed environment.

If you can, imagine two towns hit by the same hurricane. The first town is completely caught off guard and devastated, with widespread destruction and a long, slow path to recovery. But the second town implemented mitigation measures, had a concrete disaster plan in place, and built strong community support networks. In all likelihood, the second town would recover from the disaster quicker, and possibly emerge even stronger from the experience.

Building resilience is a lengthy process, but it’s an investment that pays off. By focusing on preparedness, mitigation, and adaptation, more communities can ensure that they too build and sustain resilience after a natural disaster.

To help guide our conversation on resilience, today we’re talking with a true authority on all things resilience and emergency management: Todd De Voe.

Todd is the Editor in Chief of The Emergency Management Network newsletter, a published author in the reference book “Campus Crisis Management,” and has penned numerous whitepapers and studies.  He hosts The EMN Newsletter Podcast and The Leader’s Cafe. He even delivered a TED talk on building and sustaining resilience. Todd holds a Masters in Public Administration and another in Emergency Management, and he’s a graduate of the National Emergency Management Executive Academy.

In our conversation today, we’re diving into what resilience truly means in emergency management. We’ll also discuss the role of community organizations and programs in building a culture of preparedness, along with strategies communities can use to strengthen their bonds and resources in the face of adversity. Most importantly, Todd will share insights into the common challenges communities face during recovery and how they should be approached.

Show highlights include:

  • Resilience in emergency management and community development involves not only recovering from a disaster but also thriving after it.
  • Community organizations and programs like CERT play a crucial role in building resilience and preparing for disasters.
  • Practical steps individuals can take to prepare for emergencies include stocking up on food and water and creating a communication plan.
  • Effective disaster policies, particularly in the area of insurance and reinsurance, are essential for promoting resilience.
  • Trust and collaboration are key in building resilience and ensuring effective disaster response and recovery.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

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Christin Thieme: Well, Todd, welcome to the Do Gooders Podcast. Thank you so much for being here with us today.

Todd De Voe: Oh, I’m excited about this. This is great. And thank you for putting this together.

Christin Thieme: Absolutely. I want to start with your TED Talk. You gave a talk highlighting the concept of building and sustaining resilience. Can you elaborate a little bit as we get started here on what resilience means in the context of emergency management and why that matters?

Todd De Voe: That’s one of those words that’s like super squishy these days, and I really struggle a little bit about really the concept of resilience and resiliency, especially when it’s… Like everything, there’s a makeup called resilience, so it could be used for almost anything. And so I think the clarification on what do we mean by that when it comes to disaster management, emergency management, and really community development after and realistically before a crisis occurs. So when I think of resilience and the definition I’m using is based upon the 100 Resilient Cities that was created by the Rockefeller Foundation many years ago that’s kind of fallen out of favor, I guess. Not fallen out of favor to say it’s a bad thing, but Rockefeller Foundation has moved away from it, funding the program. And the idea here is how do we make a community that not only is able to recover from a disaster but actually can thrive after disaster, and really taking the whole community approach and approaching what it is to mean the whole community.

And so it’s really a holistic approach to disaster and management and disaster recovery. And I want to take this one step further now. And Nicholas Taleb created a book, now everybody knows probably The Black Swan book that he wrote, but there’s one called Antifragile, which really takes that step to the next level.

And although he was talking about it in the terms of economics, how do we have a portfolio that is anti-fragile that can withstand economic depressions, and even crazy bounces up into the dot coms and the bubbles, how do you withstand those, we could use that same concept where you apply it to holistic community, emergency management, disaster management, if you will, depends on what part of the world you’re in, and using anti-fragile, which means that not only are we taking a look at the concept of resiliency from where we come back to normal, but it’s actually anti-fragility where we come back to normal and we take it to the next step over. And that’s really the work that I’ve been doing over the last 10 years now into what resiliency truly means in disaster and emergency management.

Christin Thieme: In your talk you actually mention a specific community in Illinois and its resilience after some devastating floods. Why did that particular example jump out to you?

Todd De Voe: And I want to talk about climate change here for a second, and I know I have friends of mine that think that I’m standing way too much in the middle on this, and this is my perspective here in emergency management, whether you believe climate change is human cost or cyclical, it doesn’t make a difference what side of the fence you sit on that. As emergency managers, we have to deal with the consequences that are associated with climate change, because I think we could all be on the same page and say, “Yes, climate is changing. Scientific data shows that there’s…” But we’re on the outside of the cause. Well, I don’t care about the cause. I have to care about the consequences of it.

And so when you’re looking and doing studying into this, you’ve seen communities up in Alaska where a complete island community has been flooded out. In Louisiana, there are some communities that no longer exist due to the rise in the water levels. And this particular community in Illinois caught my eye because what they did is they made a decision saying, “Hey, we’ve been flooded out multiple times.” It was like three or four times within a short period of time. And they said, “Okay, we just can’t take this anymore.” FEMA is like, “Hey, we can’t afford to pay every single time that your community gets flooded out to recover from the homes and people.” And so what they did is some land swapping and some movement of some things, and the area that flooded out. Some areas are still being used for farming because it’s great soil.

It’s an amazing thing that floods do, they bring wonderful soil, that’s why they’re fertile valleys, but they also bring destruction when the floods occur. So moving the homes outside of the flood zone up a hill about… I want to say it was really… I forget off the top of my head now, I have to look at my data, but it was really less than a mile up away from where they were. The community is still able to thrive and they turned some of the area into parks, some of it into farmland, and the community didn’t suffer a loss of their identity by moving up that further. And in some cases they actually physically move buildings. And I thought that was a really unique way and interesting perspective on how to deal with that. And that’s why they’re resilient, that’s why they’re anti-fragile, because they went from going, “Oh my gosh, every single time this flood happens, we’re going to get destroyed. People could lose property and get hurt.” Now we’re a thriving community that’s still able to take that negative and make it into a positive.

Christin Thieme: Such a unique example. Really, really interesting how they went about that. So you’ve talked a lot about the role of community organizations and programs like CERT and building resilience. How do these initiatives help communities prepare for and respond to disasters effectively?

Todd De Voe: Well, that’s the million-dollar question when we take a look at disaster preparedness and what does that mean. And you have organizations from many, many years have been working on disaster preparedness, whether it’s Red Cross programs that go out and do the pillowcase things or programs like The Salvation Army do to go out to communities and prepare them for disasters or CERT programs or community programs. I feel that there’s a gap in between where people hear about it and they go to these preparedness fairs and stuff, and they’re the ones that are highly interested. But at the end of the day, they go, “Oh, well, I got soccer practice with the kids on Saturday. I got these things.” And then that pamphlet that you handed them at the disaster fair, it goes into a drawer, and eventually they clean out the drawer and it goes away.

And so how do we engage the community into being better prepared? Well, there’s a couple different things. We could do carrots and sticks. And I prefer the carrot method, if you will. And so you have, well, we’ve talked to insurance agencies and said, “Hey, can we do things to reduce your insurance impact if you do preparedness?” For instance, now we’ve seen this in the wildland interface, the WUI, if you will, where if homes go the extra step and get themselves prepared, have defensible spaces and things like this, they could actually reduce their fire insurance. So there’s the carrot. You go, “Okay, here it is.” These homes survive, and there’s an accidental survival, if you will, with a case like this in Hawaii when all the other homes around it burned down and this one home that just actually had some work done to it had a defensible space and it saw that it worked.

I talk about it in my TED Talk as well about some homes that survived the fire that came through in the Blue Cut Fire and those in some of the homes that didn’t, and it came down to the defensible space. So there’s those examples that we could show. I think people who live in those wildland fire areas are probably a little bit more sensitive to it than, say, earthquake preparedness. Well, we saw here just recently where we have the Bolt and Brace program to where homes were paying older homes to be bolted or braced down to their foundation depending on what they need. And so now there’s, again, an incentive to here’s cash for you to pay a contractor to come in to do this. So there’s that incentive there as well.

And then on the other side of it, we take a look at maybe positive peer pressure. And this is where I like to use community programs and organizations such as The Salvation Army to do positive peer pressure where you’re going through the neighborhood saying, “Hey, your neighbor is doing stuff to be prepared. Why aren’t you?” That type of thing. And neighbors want their neighbors to be prepared because they don’t want them coming to their house after disaster occurs and knocking on their door saying, “Hey, you’re ready.” And so programs that can get out into the neighborhoods, into the communities are important. Now, how do we do this? Well, I think working with community organizations is critical. And I just did a speech about a week ago, maybe two now, probably two now, to a Rotary club specifically talking about how the Rotary and the Qantas’s and community organizations, churches, things like this, can be positively impacting the community in the preparedness realm and having those community partners working with the Chamber of Commerce, for instance, and having those businesses being prepared for disaster.

And we’ve all known, so the idea that, oh, this pain never happened to me or this can’t happen to us, this is all a bunch of people who are in a … well, you know what? About four years ago, we could have… Or five years. No, three now, whatever, we could have said, “Oh yeah, for sure. Oh yeah, this is Todd, he’s just crazy.” But then COVID occurred, and we were all impacted by COVID. We all understood what the impact on our businesses were, on our communities were. And there’s politicians that stood up and said, “Oh, we could have never predicted this to occur.” Well, that’s not true, because if you listen to emergency management professionals, we were saying, “Hey, we have pandemic…” Now, we might not have been calling it COVID, but we were calling it a pandemic flu plan.

So we knew that something could occur. We had these near brushes with it, with SARS and MERS and stuff like this. And so we’re not talking out of fear and we were talking out or being prepared. And I do have a challenge for everybody today. We need to switch the narrative a little bit, because we do talk like, “Oh man, if you’re not ready, your house is going to fall down and you’re going to starve or whatever.” So that’s getting that fear factor up. But we want to talk about the positive of the positive things that can happen when you’re prepared, such as, like I said, the carrot and the sticks, such as you can reduce your food costs for your family because you have food that’s ready to go, you’re not constantly buying food. You can reduce your insurance potentially, depending on your insurance company.

You can reduce the stress and anxiety that you have for when you’re away from your family, is your family going to be okay. You know where to go in case there is a disaster, and so you know your communications plan is up and ready to go. So having those positive things, not the fear of, oh, you’re going to fall into the ocean and die. So we don’t want to give that message. We just want to give it a positive message. Because that’s not true. We all know that’s not true in our world, but people think that’s what we’re talking about.

Christin Thieme: When you talk about communication and collaboration and how important these are in preparedness, can you share some examples or maybe one that has stuck out to you that you’ve seen of a successful collaboration that’s led to an effective disaster response and recovery effort?

Todd De Voe: There’s a couple, but one I want to talk about in Orange County, California in this canyon called Modjeska Canyon, it’s an area that’s high prone for fire. They have a really tight community up there. It’s a hillside community. You probably would never even know it was there if you’re driving around Orange County. You wouldn’t think of it being in Southern California. It looks more like it’s in the country somewhere. They have a communications plan, they have GMRS radios that each member of the community has been given one, so they can talk to each other. They have a channel. I forget what day it’s, but every week there’s a practice that they get on the radio and talk to each other like a net control check-in for ham radio operators, if you will, but it’s for the GMRS team.

They have meeting places within the community in case there is a fire, and they check on each other for earthquakes and floods and things like this. And so that’s a community, even, again, it’s small, that is prepared. It’s a pretty well-prepared little community. And so you go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, okay, that’s a small community. I live in Los Angeles or Chicago or whatever. How can that happen?” Well, you don’t have to worry about your entire community. The entire city of Los Angeles, 88 cities in Los Angeles County, you don’t have to worry about all those, think about the county size. If you just take what you define as your neighborhood, a four block area, six block area, whatever that is, it’s your neighborhood, and you just worry about that little particular notion and you as that little neighborhood is prepared.

And that, again, the peer positive peer pressure, the next neighborhood over is like, “Wait, these guys just did it. Why can’t we?” And it becomes this really snowball effect, if you will, of community preparedness. Now, let’s take that idea here and put this into a larger urban setting. I’ve seen this happen with the map of your neighborhood programs, which is a little bit different. And a program that was created by a volunteer in Seal Beach called Neighbor 4 Neighbor, and this program here did the same thing. And it started off as being heavily supported by the city, and then we were to hand it to the volunteer group. And so these volunteers are able to go out and do multiple meetings throughout the community of Seal Beach. And last I heard, I think every neighborhood in Seal Beach has had a Neighbor 4 Neighbor organization stood up and look more prepared.

And the cool thing about this is it’s not just about disasters, and this is where really I think is a great example of how this is a positive program throughout your community. In one of the Neighbor 4 Neighbor meetings, they found this elderly women, she was pretty much a shut-in. She was using OCTA, the transportation authority, to go to doctor’s appointments and stuff like this, but it was still hard for her to get there. And the community, the neighborhood came up with a way to take care of her, to be able to get her to doctor’s appointments, to help her get the grocery shopping, to do these things, so she was no longer this, Oh, yeah, that’s the old lady that lives in the white house to a member of that neighborhood. And she would come out and she was participating again, and her quality of life went up, not just because she’s going to the doctor’s appointments, but because she’s able to participate in the community again, and people were taking care of her. And that’s what this is about. It’s not about this is a disaster.

Christin Thieme: That’s so neat. And that’s just one tiny result. Think about all the good things that could happen from taking these steps. So along those lines, we all know that we need to be preparing. We all have at least that small bit of knowledge. But what are some actual practical steps that individuals can take to prepare themselves, their families, their neighbors for an emergency? How do we actually put this into practice?

Todd De Voe: So I’m going to give you some simple steps that you can use to prepare your house, your home. So when you go to the grocery store, and I always use SpaghettiOs, because everybody knows SpaghettiOs. So if you buy SpaghettiOs and say you buy two cans of SpaghettiOs every week, well, on one of your trips, buy three or four, and then you can still go back to buying two cans of SpaghettiOs every week, you just rotate those cans through. And then, again, you maybe buy a couple more when you have a little extra money and so it doesn’t have to be super expensive. And over time, you’re going to have a reserve of your SpaghettiOs to have.

So if the earthquake does occur or the disaster, and you have your canned foods ready to go, that’s food that you eat on a regular basis. Now, the reason why I use SpaghettiOs is because most kids like that food. It’s a comfort food, it’s something that most little kids would eat, because you don’t want to all of a sudden go, “Oh, here’s this Mountain House.” I like Mountain House, by the way. It’s like all of a sudden you’re like-

Christin Thieme: Here’s some canned chicken.

Todd De Voe: Yeah, here’s your Mountain House dried food, we’re going to put some water in it. And the kid’s like, “What? I’ve never eaten this before in my life and I don’t want to eat it.” And if anybody has kids, you know that sometimes they’re finicky and fickle.

And so you want to have something to eat on a regular basis. Now, if you happen to be somebody who goes camping a lot like my family does, or at least my son and I do, and we have Mountain House food, because we’ve eaten it, we like it, we understand how to use it, but if you don’t do it on a regular basis it’s something foreign to you and kids aren’t going to want to do it. So you want to have food and stuff. Same thing with water. If you buy bottled water, if you buy, say, a case, buy two, and just rotate that water out. And it’s very simple. It doesn’t have to be all done at one time.

Christin Thieme: So you’re keeping this in your regular pantry just where you already keep your food, this isn’t a separate emergency stash of food, is that right? And then how much food are you keeping in mind for a potential disaster?

Todd De Voe: Okay, so I’m going to give this a two point caveat here. So one is, yes, you’re going to keep that stuff in your regular pantry, because the majority of the time, now, there could be times when it’s not, so I’m not going to talk absolutes on anything here, but the majority of the time, even with a hurricane coming through, if you lived in Florida or whatever, homes aren’t necessarily just destroyed. Now there are times there, but, that being said, even if you have that really big tornado, unless you have a storm shelter that comes through like a more Oklahoma thing where the entire city was level, if you have it in a shed, someplace else, or in a car, it’s going to be destroyed. You can’t plan for everything. Like I said, unless you happen to have a storm shelter. And those people who have storm shelters, they know how to take care of that part of it.

So yes, it’s going to be inside your house, earthquake occurs, you might have to come back in later on, grab this food and leave, that type of stuff. But I always say keep at least three days of that once you stock it up, maybe at a different location in a closet or someplace closer to the front door, or if you have a vehicle, you can keep it in the truck of your vehicle. I recommend every car having a disaster kit as well. But building it up, you don’t have to buy the two, $3,000 disaster kit that they sell on TV or whatever. And if you have the money and the funds to do so, do so. But if you are on a budget, like most of us are in the United States, we’re all budget conscious and most of us don’t have extra, especially if you have kids, money sitting around to be able to just have dry food sitting in a closet someplace.

You could do this pretty much in a budgetary fashion. And it might take you a couple of months to build it up, but you’ll have food and water ready to go. I had a friend of mine who was asked, we were talking about this, and I said, “What if you live in a condo or an apartment?” Well, you know what I mean, you have your restrictions that you’re within, but one of the people in this class I was talking to, they said, “Well, yeah, I live in an apartment,” and they put the water and food behind their couch, and they put a piece of wood over it and a nice tablecloth or something over it, and it looks like a piece of furniture

Christin Thieme: Clever.

Todd De Voe: So there’s unique ways of doing it for storage ways, and, yes, you’re going to be limited to the size of that you live in. Not everybody lives in a 3000 square foot home or lives on a farm, you know what I mean? Some people live in a 900 square foot, one bedroom apartment or whatever. Stay within those meetings and what you have. But having the preparedness, not only does it give you the food that you need in case of COVID. If you remember when COVID occurred and you go to the shopping centers or to the grocery stores, there was nothing on the shelves in some cases. So you’re prepared for something like that.

Christin Thieme: That was so eerie, by the way. I remember that so specifically, how crazy that was to walk through the aisles and have it just be cleared out of everything.

Todd De Voe: I went to a grocery store by my house and not so much to buy anything, I was just really curious about the way people are reacting. And I called them the shopping cart zombies because they wanted to buy something, but they didn’t know what to buy, and they were just walking around putting things in the cart that they probably would never have purchased before because it was available. And I was there and I talked to one of the managers of the grocery store and I said, “Hey, what do you think? Is this good for you guys or what?” And he goes, “Short term.” He goes, “I’m selling out of everything. He goes long term,” he goes, “I don’t know. I don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to fill these shelves back up.”

And so they had concerns. But you don’t want to be there. I’m from the Northeast originally, and my dad owned delis, and I remember as a kid, every time that there was a snowstorm coming, because we’d get them, it’s like every year the snowstorm comes, and everybody would come to the deli and buy milk and bread. I never understood why it was milk and bread, but it seems to be everybody was buying milk and bread. And then as I was looking at the behavior of the people at the grocery store, everybody was buying milk and bread, and I thought, wow, I guess it’s…

Christin Thieme: The staples.

Todd De Voe: Yeah, it’s like milk and bread. So I find that really interesting. So that’s the idea of preparedness here is that we’re always talking about the big earthquake or something where we have to evacuate the home, but it doesn’t have to be preparedness for this evacuation. It’s preparedness for any crisis that comes our way, whether it’s economic and or natural disaster.

Christin Thieme: It’s a good point. So that’s really looking at the individual level. What about if we turn to more of the policy level, are there any initiatives or specific policies that you think are particularly effective in promoting resilience specifically at either a local or a national level?

Todd De Voe: Oh man, that’s right up my alley. It’s kind of funny you say that because I’m doing some writing right now, I’m doing some research, and I actually have a…

Christin Thieme: Oh, there you go. Disaster policy and politics.

Todd De Voe: Yes, this is right where we live. And I’m sure I’m going to really start controversy here with this conversation right now, but one of the things that we really need to be working on is insurance reinsurance, and what are we looking at specifically in the flood insurance side of things that’s pretty much insolvent at this point. And why is that? I own a home. People go, “You’re an emergency manager and you bought a house in the urban interface.” I’m like, “Yeah, because, number one, it’s beautiful, and, number two, it’s beautiful.” But I have fire insurance and I live up on a hill, and I have flood insurance. And people are like, “You’re crazy for having flood insurance. You don’t live anywhere near a river stream.” I’m like, “No, I don’t, but there’s always a possibility that I’m going to get other floods, whether it’s a major pipe behind my house bursting or whatever, there’s always a possibility of flooding happening in your house. So having that flood insurance is critical.”

And so we’re seeing this happen where flood insurance is, like I said, pretty much insolvent. And in California you’re seeing insurance companies fleeing or not selling fire insurance anymore. And it happened to me. I had AAA insurance for many, many years for my homeowners and a car and whatnot, and they said, “Hey, we’re not going to insure fire insurance any longer.” So I had to go to a different company. I always get these mixed up. State Farm or Farmers. I think of State Farm I’m with. That’s my wife, she takes care of all that. And so we’re with another insurance company now that is taking care of us. And so now the problem is we’re reducing into smaller pools of insurance companies.

Let’s say State Farm, for instance, I believe that’s what I have, and so we’re down to this. Say everybody in my neighborhood has State Farm, I don’t know if they do or not, but we’ll just say they do. If that company gets hit with all of our claims, does that company become insolvent and not able to be able to pay us out for our fire claims? So there’s a problem there, and we really need to fix that insurance problem and we need to fix the reinsurance problem with these companies that are… Because obviously if you know how insurance works in a way, insurance companies are insured by these reinsurance. And there’s only a few of those. There’s only so many Lloyd’s of London or whatever that are taking care of the insurance companies. So it becomes a problem and we need to really look deeper into that policy.

Do I have an answer for that right now? I don’t. But that’s one of the things that I think about a lot is that world of insurance and how things get paid out. And I’ll go back to this for a minute. If we’re thinking about the tragedy in Baltimore with the bridge, that bridge was insured by multiple different insurance companies, and so that will be made whole at some point through the insurance process. Could you imagine if that didn’t have insurance and what that would mean to the economic impact of the community and to the nation? And cities need to be insured.

And so that’s the other thing too, and I don’t work in insurance, I’m not sponsored by an insurance company by any means, but cities need to be insured. And everybody goes, “Oh, well the federal government is going to come and bail cities out with federal funding.” And there’s possibilities there, for sure, but the problem is now we take a look at disasters, and if you have a disaster year like we had a few years ago in California specifically, the largest fire ever three times, how does that work with FEMA coming in? At some point they’re going to run out of money, and we can’t just expect the federal government to print money. So we have to work through that process. And I think that’s the biggest policy challenge that we have right now in disaster management is the insurance and how do we make people whole again after a disaster, which goes back all the way to preparedness and why we need to be prepared and it is full circle on the conversation.

Christin Thieme: I know it’s a big topic right now in Southern California where I am too. A lot of insurance companies are no longer insuring people in the area, and so where do you go? And if there’s a smaller pool to actually insure people, then what are the rates? And it’s just a big topic of conversation, so it’ll be interesting to watch. As you said, don’t know what the answers are, but something to keep an eye on, for sure.

Todd De Voe: Absolutely.

Christin Thieme: So looking at your experience as an emergency manager, what would you say are some key lessons you’ve learned about disaster resilience that you would say are really important to share with others in a nutshell.

Todd De Voe: I was going to say, I have so many. I think the biggest one is trust the people. And what I mean by that is when we in government are making these plans and stuff, and we used to do it in this vacuum. We’re going to make a plan and then we’re going to tell the people that we made this plan, and this is what we’re going to do. Well, without them seeing it or understanding it or the buying in it, and so I’m going through the hazard mitigation planning process right now, and I’m reaching out to so many stakeholders and wanting more people to get involved and getting their eyes on it and getting their take, because if you do it without them, without the people, then it’s mandated coming and they don’t understand it, they’re fearful of it, they don’t get why we did what we did, and there’s no buy-in.

You need to have community buy-in, for sure. And it’s amazing to see, and I’ve seen it time and time again. And my first major disaster, well, that I worked, I was in a couple of really big snowstorms as a kid, so my storms and stuff like this is working in the fire department, but the first major disaster I saw was Katrina. And this is 2005, right? Yeah, 2005. And I’ve had some fires and stuff like this in California, but to see the people really come together. And the news media showed some really bad things, for sure, but they didn’t really highlight some of the greatness that came out of that disaster of communities coming together to help rebuild each other. The community of Slidell, for instance, Louisiana on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain, they were leveled, probably had more damage done to it than any other city in Louisiana, and they came together and rebuilt.

I think just the spirit of humanity and the fact that most people want to help each other after these events, you need to understand that’s what it really truly is. There’s limited and there’s some. We’ll talk about the bad too, there are some bad people, bad actors that’s going to be the problem no matter where you go, but the vast majority of individuals want to help each other, and they come out when disasters occur. And you see this, you in the nonprofit space and especially in the service space, you see people wanting to volunteer their time to be able to give back to the community. And I think trust your people is the key to it. As a professional emergency manager, trust your community.

Christin Thieme: I love it. Well, Todd, thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for all the insight and wisdom you’ve given us, and that extra motivation to start getting prepared.

Todd De Voe: Absolutely. Thank you so much for your time.

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Research leads to better serving Orange County's unhoused Native Americans

Research leads to better serving Orange County’s unhoused Native Americans

Researchers from The Salvation Army’s Center for Applied Research and Innovation

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