Webinar Slides Available: The Regional Development Organization’s Role in Disaster Preparedness

Posted on: August 11th, 2015 by Sara James


Across the country, neighboring cities, towns, and counties often face the same natural hazards and risks, and, as a result, would benefit from coordinated mitigation and preparedness strategies.  However, local governments – especially in smaller communities and rural areas – often lack the staff capacity and technical expertise to thoroughly prepare for natural disasters and to make policy, capital improvement, and economic development decisions that build resilience to future disaster events.

For these reasons, regional development organizations (RDOs) – an umbrella term for the councils of government, regional planning commissions, economic development districts, and other multi-jurisdictional planning and economic development organizations that exist throughout the country – are critical partners in disaster preparedness.  With their regional perspective, interdisciplinary focus, ability to navigate federal programs, and broad network of partners at all levels of government and in the private and philanthropic sectors, RDOs can help their local communities become better prepared to withstand and bounce back from future disasters.

Some of the roles that RDOs play with regards to disaster preparedness include:

  • Overseeing and supporting hazard mitigation planning – both for individual member communities and the region as a whole;
  • Integrating planning for natural disasters and other disruptions into other local and regional plans, including the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS);
  • Conducting vulnerability assessments and other data analysis to understand the impacts of disasters on the economy and the built environment;
  • Mapping flood zones, storm surge, projected sea level rise, storm damage, and other indicators;
  • Providing direct technical asssistance to local governments and the staff time to fill the gaps in local capacity.

More broadly, RDOs foster important connections between emergency management, land use, transportation, economic and business development, hazard mitigation, and other issues, and facilitate the coordination and alignment of local preparedness  efforts to promote the resilience of the region as a whole.

On August 13, the NADO Research Foundation hosted a webinar titled “Building Resilience through Collaboration: The Regional Development Organization’s Role in Disaster Preparedness.”  This webinar featured speakers from two RDOs that have developed inventive approaches to preparing for the impacts of natural disasters, climate change, and other disruptions.  Presenters shared their experiences, lessons learned, and recommendations for other RDOs seeking to engage in preparedness and mitigation initiatives.

  • Allison Beasley with the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District (http://smpdd NULL.com/) discussed how communities on the Gulf Coast are becoming more resilient by integrating hazard mitigation principles into local comprehensive plans.
  • Margo Moehring with the Regional Community Institute of Northeast Florida, Inc (http://www NULL.rcinef NULL.org/AboutUs NULL.html). shared an innovative model for engaging the business community and providing regional leadership on actionable preparedness activities.

Click here for the webinar PowerPoint slides. (PDF)

This webinar is a companion to a previous webinar titled “Capacity-Builders, Conveners, Collaborators, and More: The Regional Development Organization’s Role in Disaster Recovery” which featured speakers from three RDOs that have been intensively involved in disaster recovery efforts.  Click here for more information and to access the slides and recording of that webinar.

The webinar is supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (http://www NULL.eda NULL.gov/)(EDA).  Contact Sara James at [email protected] (sjames null@null nado NULL.org) with any questions.

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