Staff and volunteers of CSS were able to attend a national disaster response conference due to a recent grant from Catholic Charities USA. The Applied Institute for Disaster Excellence (AIDE) conference is a “by the network, for the network” training that strengthens local disaster response capacity. Attendees come away with best practices and new relationships that serve as a critical asset at a time of a disaster event. In addition to the core training, peer-to-peer networking opportunities and daily liturgy, attendees had the opportunity to go the sites of previous disasters and witness the impact as well as recovery measures made post-disaster.
Some of the topics studied by CSS staff and volunteers included Social Vulnerability of At-Risk Populations, Disaster Case Management, Navigating FEMA, Disaster Housing Considerations, and Disaster Fundraising. They attended special presentations from industry specialists from FEMA, NORAD/NORTHCOM, NOAA and others who spoke on pertinent issues such as race, service navigation, and public/private partnerships. A fun exercise to end the conference was the Extreme Disaster Game. This was a role-playing game to give you a feel for what it takes to build community resiliency in the face of disaster. Players worked together to make decisions and solve problems during the fast-paced disaster simulation.
This conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other passionate individuals as we work to develop our Disaster Response Capacity Plan here at Catholic Social Services. A special thank you to those volunteers who have lent their time and talent to help us respond to those in need, most recently during our efforts to help storm-impacted families in Pine Ridge.