As parts of our country face extreme cold and snow while others are still recovering from last summer’s floods, fires, and tornadoes, we are constantly reminded the immediate effects natural disasters can have on our communities.
The second a disaster strikes, it is a terrible situation; something you cannot imagine. The next few minutes, hours, days, and weeks could be worse. The good news is, with the right collaborative team in place, they can be better.
Immediately after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, people feared a tsunami might be triggered on the San Mateo County coast, a beautiful area south of San Francisco that includes numerous small towns, rural farmland and redwood forests. Fortunately, a tsunami did not materialize. But a warning was issued and the community sprang into action – with many people later reporting that they were confused about what to do, where to go, and how real the danger was. Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s board of directors commissioned a study of this community response.
On a busy Monday morning, attorney and community advocate Steve Reyes arrives for his first day on the job. Already there are back-to-back meetings and everyone on staff seems to need a few minutes to talk with him. Steve’s job, directing California Community Foundation’s (CCF) newly-created Our Children Relief Fund, leaves him little time to get settled in.
The physical and emotional landscape of our community was forever changed on March 22, 2014, when a devastating mudslide swept through our community and took the lives 43 of our neighbors. The Darrington, Arlington and Oso communities are located in rural Snohomish County, north of Seattle.
Just a few days after an EF4 tornado tore through Central Arkansas on April 27, 2014, I drove to the community hardest hit by the storm - Vilonia, Arkansas - to meet with community leaders about beginning the process of long-term recovery. On the outskirts of town, I saw the familiar scene that anyone familiar with Vilonia would know. But then I entered downtown.
In our tornado-, flood-, drought-, ice-, you-name-it belt of the Midwest, we live by the maxim that it’s not “if,” but “when” the next natural disaster will strike.
oes it seem to you that we are hearing more about wildfires? There’s a reason: they are increasing in frequency and intensity and occurring over a longer period of months.
Guy David Gundlach’s story of philanthropy is unique. This is not your typical planned giving story involving a long relationship between a donor and a charitable organization resulting in an estate gift dedicated to a specific cause. It is the story of a businessman with global interests who left the vast majority of his entire estate, totaling nearly $150 million, to his hometown of Elkhart, Indiana through the community foundation.
There is a Toby Keith song with the lyrics, “I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.” With each catastrophic disaster, I am reminded of this song. I was an emergency responder following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and continue to work towards the Gulf’s recovery. It is predicted that the books will not be closed on that storm until 2026. Back then, I had no idea how long the road to recovery would be. I often wish I didn't know now relief is just the beginning and taking the long view is much harder. We must implement the lessons we learned that allow us to take the longer – and sometimes harder – view. So let us try a new approach with Typhoon Haiyan, and implement these lessons of recovery, rebuilding, and preparation.