HELENA — The first inaugural Recovery Resource Symposium brought experts to Fort Harrison from a wide range of agencies and community partners to discuss ways to improve the long-term response to communities impacted by major disasters.
“Recovery is long. Recovery is not a sprint. It is a marathon. And we've got a lot of great partners that have helped us to date with recovery efforts,” says State Hazard Mitigation Officer for Montana Disaster and Emergency Services (DES), Sara Hartley.
The event, hosted by Montana DES, brought together folks from FEMA and other disaster relief experts to focus on holistic approaches to long-term disaster recovery.
The meeting on Wednesday reviewed the response to the flooding of June 2022. And examined what worked and what unmet needs impacted communities are still grappling with half a year after the floodwaters have receded.
“However, there's gaps in that process, right? Every program has limitations. So, what we're trying to do is educate everybody to the partners that do come to the table and what they're able to provide but understand where those limitations are. And then ask our other partners, our philanthropic organizations, private nonprofits, university system partners, to come to the table and say how can we work together and build partnerships that can then fill in and support recovery efforts moving forward where maybe some of our other programs have limitations,” says Hartley.
The symposium featured presenters from FEMA staff, local community representatives, philanthropic organizations, higher education representatives, and Montana state emergency management experts.
The event focused on 6 key recovery impacts which included: infrastructure, housing, economy, industry partners, environment/natural resources, and local capacity.
“There’s always going to be capacity issues when you're talking about disaster recovery. So, having these partnerships formed and people working together ahead of time, it helps move those recovery efforts along but resiliency long-term,” says Hartley.