Northland chosen for natural disaster education

By KBJR News 1

May 21, 2014 Updated May 21, 2014 at 9:53 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Disastrous flooding in June 2012 caused more than $200,000,000 in damages to the Northland.

Now lessons from the flood are expected to help other regions better prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

We're slowly approaching the two year anniversary of the June 2012 flash floods.

"What we know about disasters is they are more prevalent. We're having more severe disasters, and they're much more frequent," said Jodi Slick, CEO of Ecolibrium3.

The Northland is now part of a two-year project designed to help other communities respond to disaster.

"This is the first time since I've been doing this work that we are really beginning to be proactive, not reactive," said Nancy Beers, disaster services director for Lutheran Social Service.

The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation coordinated much of the Northland's philanthropic flood response.

The organization is now positioned to play an active role in the Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency and Emergency Partnership, or PPREP program.

"We will be able to share from the Community Foundation our best practices, but we will also be able to hear from other Community Foundations across the region that have done really excellent work and what they define really as best practices," said Holly Sampson, president of the Duluth Community Foundation.

"We can all learn from each other," said Beers.

The goal of the new program is to provide best-practice disaster recommendations to community foundations in an eight-state region.

"Half of Americans live in a county that has had a declared flood in the last five years. It takes time to put together disaster response. It takes time to put together long-term recovery, and unfortunately once the disaster hits that's not the time to be doing it," said Slick.

Spokespeople say the program will create a learning cohort... building stronger communities before disaster strikes.

The Community Foundation is one of 18 groups from the eight-state region that will meet through 2016 and share their disaster and recovery experiences.

Elsa Robins