In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Cedar Falls, Citizens & Disaster Response

June 17th, 2008 · No Comments

The valiant efforts of the civilian responders in Cedar Falls, Iowa provides yet another example of how average citizens come together and rise to the occasion in major disaster situations. On the Security Debrief blog, Rich Cooper offers a nice tribute and offers the important reminder that even those of us not in currently harm’s way should not miss this “teaching moment”:

“…pay close attention to what is happening right now in the heartland of America.  Over the past several days, the citizens of Cedar Falls, Iowa, have filled hundreds of thousands of sandbags to save their City from the rising waters of the Cedar River.  Thousands of volunteers of every age and walk of life have stepped forward to fill bag after bag and put them in place to save their ‘homeland’ and preserve the ‘security’ that it brings to them.

While Mother Nature is neither patient nor forgiving to communities in times like these, Cedar Falls and others like her in the Midwest that are fighting the ‘battle’ for survival represent the personification of resilience.  They are offering us all a teachable moment and we all have a lot to learn.  As we watch this lesson unfold (and hopefully help them overcome their current threats along the way), we should all be asking ourselves, “Are we ready to do the same things for our community, our families and ourselves?”

While pondering that question, let’s put the following facts on the table.  There was no legislative mandate that made the citizens of Cedar Falls step forward to fill sandbags and stack them atop one another.  Nor were there FEMA checks handed out to make them come downtown to save the City streets from more ruin.  They just showed up and did it.  They were business owners, employees, parents, students, etc.  – all citizens committed to the survival of what is important to them.   That is what resilience is: action that enables survival. Before we allow the word to become so overused that it loses its meaning (e.g. interoperability), we need to remember that people focused on a mission are at the center of resilience.

The example of Cedar Rapids and other Midwest towns fighting floodwaters from taking what they have left is not unique.  We’ve seen it in the West during large wild-fire outbreaks.  We’ve seen it in coastal communities that have been struck by hurricanes.  We saw it on the evening of September 11th when construction workers and others showed up in lower Manhattan to start the grim recovery work.

All of these examples and more are emblematic of a spirit we saw heroically manifested on United Flight 93.  Average citizens with no prior connection to one another other than a common purchase of an ill-fated plane ticket, came together and stopped further carnage so others could survive.” 



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