In the hours after a disaster, when information is scarce and services stretched thin, families and neighbors quickly band together to help those in need. FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) provide vital information and services to get locals through a disaster, but they are established only when federal aid is deployed — often days or weeks after an event. To bridge this gap between community response and government action, the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and frog partnered to rethink the mechanics of formal disaster response by building on the natural human instinct to help. Frog delivered a playbook that describes how a community-run DRC can be staged and deployed before FEMA’s arrives on the scene.
To kickstart the Community DRC initiative, FEMA partners with national franchises and local organizations to establish locations and guidelines for community-run relief centers. Private sector partnerships provide instant scale, putting a “DRC on every corner” through storefronts across the US. Each participating neighborhood selects a Community DRC Marshall, who will serve as a single point of contact for FEMA and ensure that the DRC location is properly equipped.
Paired with the Virtual DRC, a tablet that streamlines registration and information distribution, the Community DRC centralizes the ground-up disaster response to connect local groups and address needs as quickly as possible. In the wake of a disaster, the Marshall works quickly to determine whether the DRC site is safe to inhabit. A FEMA toolkit, stored at the DRC site, contains recommendations and materials for way-finding, layout, management structure and information flow to guide the Marshall through deployment. As the recovery process unfolds, the centers evolve to become a hub for government recovery efforts as well. If and when FEMA is deployed, federal aid can seamlessly plug into work already underway.
frog presented the Community DRC concept at the White House to over 80 members of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, including FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. FEMA has moved forward with field-testing both Community DRC and Virtual DRC prototypes.