The Centralina Economic Development District (EDD) partnered with Centralina Regional Council and the nine-county emergency management (EM) directors to launch the Regional Resilience Collaborative (RRC) in April 2021. The RRC program examines the viability and resiliency of EM disaster recovery plans and economic resilience needs to ensure the region benefits from greater efficiency in responding to current and future natural and man-made disasters and economic shocks.
Strategic conversations with EM leaders coupled with research on the regional landscape and an extensive review of existing emergency plans identified a significant gap in the recovery plans and processes. While many counties feel confident about their relationships with community nonprofits, they indicate they have limited experience working with community partners on long-term disaster recovery issues. The nine-county EM leaders as a part of the RRC indicated they need assistance with fostering Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) required Whole Community partnerships and the creation of comprehensive disaster recovery plans. In addition, they welcomed the strategic partnership with Centralina to assist them with overcoming gaps in community recovery planning needs and bolstering the knowledge, administrative protocols and relationships required between EM and local government leaders.
The EM leads see Centralina as a critical partner for assisting them with the education of local leaders about the importance of supporting recovery plans and why their role is critical to disaster recovery success. It became apparent from the conversations between Centralina, EM leadership and local government that the education and trust building components critical to community recovery and resilience were fostered because of the RRC. The EM planning teams indicated that large-scale, holistic recovery requires on-going partnerships between EM, local leaders and many other government and nongovernment partners.
Many local leaders in the Centralina region have never needed to coordinate long-term recovery to a catastrophic incident, however the region includes two nuclear power planning zones and the City of Charlotte. Centralina continues to have the opportunity via the RRC to share knowledge and learnings about disaster recovery from those who have experience managing complex recovery over the long term. Centralina continues to provide convenings that allow for peer-to-peer sharing of best practices that have included the North Carolina Office of Resilience and Recovery, the FEMA Community Planning Division and jurisdictions that have repetitive disasters experience.
The RRC supports the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) five-year economic plan required by the U.S. Economic Development Administration by examining the economic recovery needs for the region now and in anticipation of future economic. Long-term disaster recovery requires local governments to include recovery management protocols in their day-to-day operations, particularly in their finance departments, to ensure response and recovery costs when incurred can meet federal and state reimbursement requirements. EM departments, small towns and rural areas have limited capacity for ensuring their communities are as resilient as they need to be prior to the next disaster event. The RRC serves as a scalable and replicable example of how council of governments are appropriate to serve as a critical trusted partner for economic recovery and resilience.