Working in your Hub, you may find yourself exercising leadership, problem-solving, and other abilities you didn’t know you had.
You and your community will come across a variety of issues. Some of these will require outside help, but many may be solved by pooling the skills, resources and connections that your community already has. As your community self-organises to respond, you will start to find solutions to these immediate issues.
But what about longer-term challenges? How does your community then continue to work together and support one another through long-term recovery? Many communities throughout the world, from Christchurch here in New Zealand, to New Orleans in the United States, to Tohoku in Japan, have gone through a disaster.
Those communities that are active, work together and support one another, can adapt and rebuild stronger than before. What can our community do to help each other through the recovery?
Maintaining your existing relationships and those you have formed during the response is important for the community’s recovery. Some people may be evacuated or may be living temporarily outside the community. Strive to help keep everyone connected and informed. Setting up phone trees, social media groups and email chains, in addition to meeting in person helps keep people connected so they can take action and support one another.
The drive to work together is often high at the start of a disaster when priorities are centred on meeting basic common needs. Keeping this positive energy alive through the recovery process will take a more concerted effort – sharing stories of the community’s successes and challenges may help do just that. Consider how the community can continue to share knowledge and creativity as challenges change from just responding to what’s in front of you, to proactively rebuilding the kind of community that you want to live and thrive in.
Getting your community’s message heard by local government and organisations that may contribute resources to help rebuild is a challenge. Look for common goals that meet the needs of many community members. Just as importantly, your community’s voice can be strong and inclusive of different needs. When a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work, part of sending a clear message means communicating that needs in your community are diverse.
During and after a disaster it is natural to experience different and strong emotions. Give yourself time to adjust and connect with family, friends and others who were affected in your community. Take care of yourself and each other, while respecting that people’s needs will vary. Everyone may deal with challenges in different ways, but no matter what, remember it’s okay to seek help. Re-establishing routines and engaging in healthy behaviours can help to enhance your ability to cope.
There is no perfect answer to how your community will tackle recovery. Staying organised and proactive through recovery may not happen in the Hub itself especially if it’s located in a place that needs to return to its business-as-usual function. Whatever the form and place, it is the connections made, the shared experiences, and people being active in the community that will make it possible to adapt and rebuild stronger than ever. Recovery will present challenges. Strong communities face them together.
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