Research has shown that minorities impacted by disasters do not rebound as quickly as other demographics. According to Scientific American, minority communities are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and disproportionately suffer from intensifying hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and heatwaves. The vulnerability results from the communities’ location and social factors, such as high poverty rates, often impede disaster preparation and recovery. Also, disaster recovery policies favor homeowners over renters, and African Americans and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the emergency response/management workforce.
Though these issues are not new, we sat down with three African American Tidal Basin Group team members and discussed how to address disaster preparedness and make disaster recovery resources more accessible and equitable in ethnically diverse and disadvantaged communities.
Esrone McDaniels, Deputy Chief Operating Officer
“Laws need to ensure that everyone has the same rights and equal access. We need to even the playing field. Disasters don’t discriminate. They impact everyone. Everyone – white, Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, all ethnically diverse populations – deserves to have any unmet need taken care of. To help those left behind, we must guide them on what to do once the disaster passes.
Preparedness information must be accessible beforehand and disseminated to the mediums where people get their news such as mom-and-pop shops and churches. Information needs to be absorbed in a way the community is receptive to. In some communities, its billboards; for others, newspaper or radio.
More importantly, a framework of trust needs to be built. Include people from the community in [local disaster] planning sessions. You must bring different voices to the table and build trust with leadership. When you add more voices to the conversation, you will have a more comprehensive strategy.”
Dawn Mascoll, Esq., Senior Director, Community Development, Housing, and Infrastructure Team
“Education is key. Whether there are community information sessions at churches, mentorship, or internships for students, people need to understand how the community will be impacted by disaster, what emergency management is and how professionals in emergency management can help during disasters and post-disaster. They need to understand where to access resources to get back on their feet. There are many opportunities for involvement and outreach, especially to minorities, women, and people with disabilities.
Tidal Basin is very involved in giving back to communities. As an industry, more outreach needs to be done to expand resources and educate disadvantaged communities.
More partnerships with schools and universities to provide mentorship and/or internship opportunities are needed. Professionals in emergency management can present as guest lecturers at HBCUs and “Career Days” in area high schools. Minority students need to know that they can do well, impact others, and grow with a career in emergency management. We need to build the next generation of emergency managers and industry leaders.
In addition, laws need to address the disparities in emergency management legislation – at all levels, local, state, and federal. They need to do a better job closing the gap and making resources and help more equitable.”
Jeremy Speaks, Project Manager, Recovery Team
“Emergency management, and response and recovery work are truly amazing because you are making an impact. You never know the inspiration you can be to someone else by simply doing what you do. It is work with purpose. I encourage young African Americans to research a career in emergency management because we need familiar voices - voices of reassurance, confidence, and hope. We are still on the ground after everyone else has left. We stay to rebuild.
Nationally, we need to strive for a more diverse workforce in emergency management. Diversity acknowledges the individual strengths of each employee and the potential they bring. The respect and creativity of others ultimately bring us all together and can be the secret to a successful, thriving workplace and work culture.”
Tidal Basin values its diverse team and leadership and continues to build an inclusive and equitable culture within our own organization and within the industry. Partnerships with organizations such as the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management (I-DIEM) and our leaders speaking to the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security about ways to make emergency preparedness, response and recovery practices more equitable, are just some of the ways we will continue to push for diversity and equity in the field of emergency management.
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About Tidal Basin
Tidal Basin is the nation’s leading emergency and disaster management consulting firm providing programmatic and technical management experience and resources to governments, organizations, businesses, and communities. Our integrated disaster management solutions and expertise help our clients and partners achieve their disaster preparedness and recovery goals more effectively. Our understanding and ability to navigate all available funding sources enables us to provide maximum value by increasing the amount of funding our clients receive for programs that help improve their communities and businesses. To learn more about what we do and our team, visit tidalbasingroup.com.
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