Disaster Recovery 101: Training to Prepare for the New Normal after COVID-19

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COLLEGE STATION – As states begin to lift COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and open businesses, communities are facing the long road to disaster recovery, which can take months or years.

To help communities navigate the rough terrain of the disaster recovery process, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) offers a free online course, Disaster Recovery Awareness. The course is designed to introduce the key elements involved in disaster recovery, from developing a recovery plan to finding disaster assistance resources.

The impetus to develop this disaster recovery training came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which wreaked havoc on the Texas Gulf Coast in 2017, he said. “Working in devastated communities, with the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas, made us realize that many city and county officials need support and tools to help them get through the recovery phase of a disaster.

Screenshot from online training in Disaster Recovery Awareness
Some Topics Covered in the Online Disaster Recovery Training

Disaster Recovery Awareness is one of a series of TEEX courses devoted to providing communities a roadmap to recovery, helping them to bounce back from the disasters that impact our country every year. “Community leaders need to know where to find recovery guidance, how to plan for and manage recovery operations, and what public assistance is available to the community and how to access it,” said Tony Crites, Associate Division Director with TEEX’s Infrastructure Training and Safety Institute.

“With TEEX’s expertise in emergency preparedness and response and our experience working with federal agencies like FEMA, we realized we could offer training to help communities build resilience and recover from the next disaster. We knew we could provide some tools and templates to help them get started in the recovery process.

“This year, the emergency management community is responding in full force to a different type of disaster, the COVID-19 pandemic,” Crites said. “While the response phase is moving forward, communities have started or soon will be starting the recovery phase of the disaster. While COVID-19 is a different type of emergency, the recovery process will prove just as challenging for communities as any other disaster they have experienced. The online courses that our staff at TEEX has developed will help communities navigate through the recovery process.”

Building with 'Yep, We're Open' sign
Businesses are beginning to reopen.

TEEX’s disaster recovery training is primarily aimed at community leaders and emergency management personnel, public works employees, health and human services, fire and public safety officers, community planners and economic development organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public-private partnerships (P3s) and/or private sector organizations that support recovery and economic development. 

In addition to the no cost, online Disaster Recovery Awareness course, TEEX has developed other free disaster management and recovery webinars. The one-hour Live Online Instructor-Led Training webinars cover topics such as public sector risk assessment, public works continuity planning, ensuring water and wastewater service during a pandemic, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) tips for first responders and first receivers.

Additional DHS/FEMA-funded disaster recovery training through TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center will be offered once face-to-face training resumes. All courses align with the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-8 on National Preparedness and follow the key elements of the National Disaster Recovery Framework.