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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Neighbourhood disaster planning Lacasse, Andrea Lynne


Research indicates the need for emergency personnel to concentrate their efforts on preparedness and mitigation, as opposed to short-term recovery needs. This pro-active approach would necessitate such tasks as building community participation into plans, concentrating on process planning to encourage creative and innovative thought, simplifying the disaster plan through the use of an all-hazard, all-phase framework, and raising the profile and status of the emergency profession. One of the major problems in the disaster planning field has been the failure to involve community in the planning process. Disaster plans primarily deal with the physical/technical side of the disaster response, but it has been shown that hostility and aggression is likely to arise when community involvement in the response and recovery phases is neglected. In the mid-1980's, the United States began the task of setting up neighbourhood disaster response teams to teach communities self-reliance in the event of a disaster. In Canada, the first case of a neighbourhood-level plan was initiated in June 1990 in the community of Burkeville, City of Richmond, British Columbia. This thesis documents Burkeville's disaster planning experience. Through a detailed examination of a 'bottom-up' planning process, we can learn about the positive and negative attributes of this model over traditional 'top-down' planning approaches. This thesis links theoretical propositions and research with the neighbourhood disaster planning process in Burkeville, to contribute suggestions for practice. One highlight of the Burkeville experience has been the indication that neighbourhood disaster plans depend on a top-down push from government to encourage and support community actions, and a bottom-up drive by the community to take on emergency planning and preparedness responsibilities. Secondly, emergency personnel must move away from producing highly detailed, voluminous plans and focus on process planning. Thirdly, neighbourhood disaster plans will need to concentrate on volunteer management issues; how to motivate individuals to get involved in emergency planning and preparedness, how to keep them involved, and what planning processes techniques are more effective to use at the community/neighbourhood level. It is hoped that the information gleaned from this thesis (theory, research, case study) will assist public and private organizations in developing strategies and plans which take into account community actions and practical realities. As the need for trained community involvement becomes more apparent from each disaster experience, the need for techniques to develop an effective community response becomes a pressing priority matter. This thesis provides an insight into a community disaster planning process, to help motivate emergency personnel and local citizens to begin the task of disaster preparedness and mitigation in their community.

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