Hurricanes and Other Disasters: Nonprofits Must Prepare

And the good news is, there are helpful resources available to help you and your nonprofit prepare.

“Climate change is already driving more severe flooding across much of the country, especially along the East Coast and Gulf Coast where residents are experiencing the triple threat of rising seas, stronger hurricanes and heavier rain. By 2050, annual losses from floods will be approximately $40 billion, according to the new study by scientists in the U.S. and United Kingdom.”

Rebecca Hersher, NPR (January 31, 2022)

And sadly, residents in low-lying areas including communities of color are often affected the most.

Hurricanes are predicted to get stronger in the years ahead.
I live in Texas, and I have seen the devastation of hurricanes along the Gulf Coast first hand. With advance preparation, nonprofits can not only survive hurricanes and other emergencies, they can also thrive. Part of planning involves moving more operations “online.”

Back in February 2020, I shared my thoughts in, “No Time Like the Present: Disaster Planning Helps Your Nonprofit and Community.” There – in addition to disaster preparation ideas – I share information about the ever-growing importance of nonprofit organizations to society. With our heads down working hard to achieve our many missions and meet our goals, nonprofit staff often feel they do not have time to stop, learn about disaster preparation, and implement those concepts.

But not to take the time ultimately undermines nonprofit effectiveness, long term viability, and it can endanger the lives of staff, volunteers, clients and the public.

Our nonprofit leaders, including board members, should demand nonprofits set aside time to prepare. And one of the most cutting-edge programs available is provided by TechSoup.

For the past two years, I have maintained a disaster preparation menu with resources – my own and those of TechSoup – on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog. These items have been moved to the main menu. Click on the menu bar at the top of the page to access them.

You will notice my photo blog from a day-long in-person program TechSoup hosted in Houston just prior to COVID-19 lockdowns. This excellent program could be replicated once it is safe for us to meet in person again. But also, with a bit of philanthropic investment, TechSoup could probably fine-tune the program for remote presentation on video conferencing platforms. If you have questions, reach out anytime!

Check out the recording of this April 4, 2022 program hosted by TechSoup Connect, NTEN and Capital Factory, “Powering Up Disaster Management: Tech Then, Now, and Later.”

National Infrastructure Improvements Help Nonprofits, Too

I was relieved to see the U.S. infrastructure bill passed. Having witnessed a steady increase in the number of deadly storms and floods over the years, the modernization of our nation’s infrastructure is essential to ensuring the citizens of our nation are secure, and businesses – including nonprofits – may thrive in the years ahead.

To read more about what is included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, follow the link to The White House website.

I have worked with several nonprofits in South Texas and along the Texas Gulf Coast. I know first hand how vulnerable they are. Their stories of being unprepared and almost obliterated by natural and manmade disasters are unforgettable. Flooding and wind damage are especially prevalent in Texas. With climate change, we can expect more. Here’s hoping the infrastructure funding will be put to good use and soon.

Having become more important to society than ever, nonprofit organizations must be ready to pivot quickly and methodically when disaster strikes. If they plan well, they can also thrive.

This year, I shared a special menu of information on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog about disaster preparation and recovery. You will find it in the margin. In fact, one of my earliest blog posts focused on using social media in disaster situations, “Emergencies: Use Social Media.” It was inspired by the Boston Marathon bombing, and I have continued to update it with new information, including a video presentation by a disaster communications specialist, hosted by Nonprofit Tech Club Austin at Capital Factory.

Here are the articles and items included in my special resource menu for quick reference.

Courtesy of Adobe Spark.

Our TechSoup disaster planning course covers a lot more than just social media. Document storage, how to outfit your office, creating a contact “tree” for communications, establishing leadership (and backup leadership) for key operational areas, and being prepared in advance to raise funding online while also ensuring a credible online presence are just a few of the topics included.

In closing, I would also like to mention that as much as we like to complain about social media, don’t forget the many invaluable ways it can help in emergency situations. Social media can help us find food and shelter, find and check-in on loved ones, learn what emergency personnel are doing at any given time, help emergency personnel find us, report on our status to concerned constituents, learn the latest weather forecast, and more. As I said in that original post – and it is still true today – use social media in emergencies.