Three years ago this week, Super Storm Sandy made landfall on the East coast of the U.S. Risks Revealed would like to welcome CEO and Co-Founder of the St. Bernard Project, Zack Rosenburg, as a special guest blogger. He’s here to tell us a bit more about pre-disaster resiliency training through the St. Bernard Project.
Three years after Superstorm Sandy devastated thousands of homes in New Jersey and New York City, our coworkers at the St. Bernard Project (SBP) are still hard at work helping families rebuild and return to homes lost during the storm’s violence. Together with Zurich, we are taking lessons learned from our work after Sandy and other disasters to help individuals, families, businesses and communities protect themselves better.
The most important lesson is this: Waiting until after a disaster is often too late. Many families and businesses we work with would have suffered far less damage if their buildings were stronger, or would have rebuilt faster and less expensively if they had broader insurance coverage. We have seen individuals and governments that were not able to get government assistance because they did not have the information they needed to navigate the complicated application process.
One study showed that every dollar spent in preparedness saves four dollars in recovery. Resilience does more than that. It protects what money can’t buy — people and their lives, communities and their fabric, and diminishing the toll taken by grueling post-disaster comebacks.
That is why SBP teamed with Zurich to start a pre-disaster resilience training program in SBP’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab. Beginning in 2016, we will conduct our preparedness program in communities with a history of disaster, focusing on training individuals, businesses and municipal officials.
In those communities, we will show individuals and businesses how a small investment in fortifying buildings can save them from destruction and damage. We are working with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) to share the enhanced building standards with those we train. We are now using the IBHS standards in pilot post-Sandy rebuilding, so we will practice what we teach.
We will work with small to mid-size businesses to help them put continuity plans in place that will keep them open after a disaster. As many as 25 percent of businesses close and stay closed after a disaster. The loss of these businesses takes away the heart and soul of communities that need their products, services and jobs.
We will also show individuals and businesses how to broaden insurance coverage and prepare to file claims. Our workshops for municipal officials will walk through compliance with the requirements for federal post-disaster assistance, as well as how to conduct needs assessments and coordinate community-wide recovery strategies.
Our goal is to help every community we go to be better prepared for a disaster. Our training will include checklists so we, and those we work with, can measure increased resilience. In the end, the more we help people get ready, the less damage there will be to recover from.