Getting Actionable About Community Resilience

The Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience Project

Published In: American Journal of Public Health, v. 103, no. 7, July 2013, p. 1181-1189

Posted on RAND.org on June 07, 2013

by Anita Chandra, Malcolm V. Williams, Alonzo L. Plough, Alix Stayton, Kenneth B. Wells, Mariana Horta, Jennifer Tang

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Research Question

  1. How prepared for disaster is Los Angeles County?

Community resilience (CR)—ability to withstand and recover from a disaster—is a national policy expectation that challenges health departments to merge disaster preparedness and community health promotion and to build stronger partnerships with organizations outside government, yet guidance is limited. A baseline survey documented community resilience–building barriers and facilitators for health department and community-based organization (CBO) staff. Questions focused on CBO engagement, government–CBO partnerships, and community education. Most health department staff and CBO members devoted minimal time to community disaster preparedness though many serve populations that would benefit. Respondents observed limited CR activities to activate in a disaster. The findings highlighted opportunities for engaging communities in disaster preparedness and informed the development of a community action plan and toolkit.

Key Findings

  • In a recent survey, many health department staff did not devote significant time to disaster preparedness activities despite engagement with populations in need.
  • There are few formal connections between the L.A. County Department of Public Health staff and community-based organizations for disaster resilience.
  • Neighbor-to-neighbor reliance in a disaster, a cornerstone of community resilience, was also low.

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