But what does Community Recovery look like?
It has been said that “Community Recovery starts in a fog and ends in a mist”.
That “fog” makes it hard to define. Recovery can encompass every part of life; or be very specific in what an individual, family, business, etc need to move forward; Every event is different and every type of event is different, though there will be commonalities: (after flooding, mold may be in issue in affected buildings; after wildfire, cleaning homes inside and out from smoke residue will probably be needed, and many people who have been traumtized by an event will need emotional support systems..etc.) Those affected may be helped with very little; or may need ongoing support at various levels for a long time.
A pandemic may or may not include the items in all, while those working on a wildfire event would no doubt take into consideration all pillars of community recovery.
First Responders will run in where angels fear to tread; to save lives, protect values, and help to keep us safe – and thank goodness they do. They are the front line of response.
Although “second responders” may also be considered “those who support the first responders” there is also a broader meaning: People and groups who work to support community recovery as a whole, or Second Responders are that “second wave” who will respond and work together in endless ways to support a community in its recovery, after the danger is past but as the work of repair and rebuilding of lives and communities is still ongoing.
This includes a large group that can involve regional, provincial or federal government ministries or branches; NGOs, local non profit groups, business, as well as those leading it; First Nations communities, local government and community members.
Character traits and skills that mark those who find themselves doing this type of work include: good organizational skills as well as flexibility ; the ability to see the bigger picture, while at the same time possessing enough curiosity to dive in deeply to a subject in order to find the tools to offer that may help.
Being willing and able to hold meetings, use telephones for long stretches at a time, carry on numerous email conversations simultaneously, and creatively use all other possible styles of appropriate communication define this position further. A sense of humour (at times..) will help get through the craziness of some situations; and those with more empathy and patience rather than less, will find the job easier.
No one agency or stakeholder group or Community Recovery manager, or individual can in themselves help a community to repair. Together, they can make greater leaps forward in supporting how and what the community feels is most appropriate. At times there are straightforward, easy answers, and at others the steps are circuitous and take routes no one would have ever thought useful or possible – but will also work.
If you have attempted to look up “community recovery” online over the last few years the first hundred or so links usually have had to do with disaster recovery of IT in small businesses……or recovery supports for addiction centres. Only after you drill deeper into the online world, are there sites addressing the many different aspects of community recovery post disaster, though usually not all on the same website.
There will be more websites created, as the need for this type of work increases and we all learn more about it. Some of the wide variety of information and resources that support community recovery are being gathered together on this site in an attempt to save time for those searching for possible solutions to their own recovery issues, or to connect with other groups and individuals interested in this subject
Community Recovery takes a long time .
When an event such as a landslide may be over in literally minutes, the recovery of those affected – physically, emotionally, economically , – can take many years. Once you have navigated through the “fog” and understand the specifics of an event, and the stakeholders ( the affected community and those supporting them) have had time to connect, it becomes more of a mist; still not a clear path, but easier to understand and maneuver through together.
Eventually; whether within several months, or a lot longer – there can be enough accomplished and settled to allow those outside the community to entirely step back as second responders , as the local government and residents carry on with their longer term plans. This is always the goal.