Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

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  • Major disasters are taking an ever-increasing toll on American communities. To cope with this growing problem, Benton County is seeking to adopt an alternative approach known as Community- Based Emergency Preparedness. Its goal is to improve collaboration among governmental agencies and the public to gain greater flexibility in decision-making and implementation. Increased community participation is intended to produce not only improved emergency readiness, but also preparations in the home, school, and workplace to reduce the effects of disaster when it strikes. This case study describes strategies Benton County officials have used to involve citizens in planning and preparing for disasters during a twelve-month period from April, 1994 to April, 1995. A recently formed citizen-initiated community coalition meets regularly to organize public education forums and emergency exercises. This is different from the past, when disaster planning was undertaken only by professionals and specialists who tended to leave the public out of the process. Public, private, and volunteer groups at the community level are now seeking to create a dynamic disaster planning process that reflects community values and accountability. Included in this case study is the development of digital maps of multiple hazards to aid experts in communicating risks to the public. Disaster planning is complicated because the community and the experts perceive risks differently. To facilitate the program in a systematic fashion, six process characteristics have been identified. Because this approach is new, the process of disaster planning is still under development.
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