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Embracing the Whole Community

This summer, the IAFC, in partnership with FEMA, will launch a blended learning course called Whole Community Planning for Disaster. The goal is to engage community groups and organizations traditionally underrepresented in community-resiliency planning.

What is the Whole Community?

According to Stephanie Brady, assistant executive director at The Independent Living Center in Joplin, Mo., “Whole community planning is planning for and with everyone, regardless of access or functional need, and with everyone at the table—all agencies, community organizations and consumers working together.”

Whole Community is an approach to emergency management that reinforces the fact that FEMA is only one part of our nation’s emergency-management team. It encourages departments to leverage all of the resources of your collective team in preparing for, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating against all hazards.

In any disaster, the larger, collective emergency-management team includes not only FEMA and its partners at the federal level but also:

  • Local, tribal, state and territorial partners
  • Nongovernmental organizations like faith-based and nonprofit groups and private sector industry
  • Individuals, families and communities, who continue to be the nation’s most important assets as first responders during a disaster

What Are Some of the Benefits of the Whole Community Approach?

The approach inspires shared understanding of community needs and capabilities and it enables greater empowerment and integration of resources from across the community.

It supports the development of stronger social infrastructure and the establishment of relationships that facilitate more accessible and effective prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery activities.

Finally, it also inspires increased individual and collective preparedness and greater resilience at both the community and national levels.

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