Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Private Sector Emergency Recovery: What the HERC?

This story is a few months old, but I really like the idea. Business leaders in Hernando County, Florida, have teamed up to create the Hernando Emergency Recovery Council (HERC). It's a collaborative private group that will provide necessary resources in the event of a disaster:

Soon, if disasters strike, victims will be able to call the Hernando Emergency Recovery Council Inc. to get aid that is both immediate and local, said the organization's president, Robert Kanner.

"We hope to have businesses pledge plywood and roof shingles and labor so when the fictional Mrs. Smith contacts us, we're able to pool together our resources," Kanner said.

The key, county emergency management director Tom Leto said, is to round up local resources that can provide goods and services.

Already Kanner and HERC's board of directors have signed up some 20 individuals and businesses - "point people" - willing to respond with resources, whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual.

Said Leto: "The better you are at organizing resources in advance, the better you can respond to the disaster. It's difficult to organize resources at the last minute."

Kanner himself is a volunteer who approached Leto about helping the community in some way.

Now, the two want to tap into the business community, aiming to enlist them not just for humanitarian reasons, but also to help themselves get back in business and stabilize the county economy in the wake of a disaster.

HERC and the Emergency Management Office will work together, Leto said.

"If the Emergency Operations Center does encounter a need the county is short on, the county will go to HERC and we will ask if they can fill it," he said.
There is a lot to like here. The collaboration between local businesses and government; the holistic approach to providing resources (i.e., focusing on all of a victim's potential needs, not just the physical ones); the stronger bonds within the community.

These things are beneficial to the community even if a disaster never strikes.

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