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CHECKLIST for State Components to Establish a Disaster Assistance Program

Since 1972, the AIA has recognized the important role that architects can play in preparing for and responding to disasters that affect the built environment. Architects can perform a vital service to society by conducting post-disaster safety assessments that help return people quickly and safely to their homes and businesses. The Disaster Assistance Committee, organized by AIA National, can help components and members prepare for disasters before they strike. This document is a first step to guide State Components as they establish a new disaster assistance program.

  • Put out a call for interested volunteers in chapter newsletters. You never know what kind of experience members in your state already have in emergency management. It is important to assemble interested and dedicated architects to help establish this program. Collect this information and use it to form a working group to shepherd this program as it develops.
  • Delegate one point person to lead the working group. This person should be the primary point of contact for the state Disaster Assistance Program. He or she will be responsible for:
    • Liaising between the state component, other local components, as well as AIA National.
    • Liaising between your State Disaster Assistance Program and the state emergency management agency.
    • Liaising between your AIA Disaster program and other professions, such as engineers building code officials, and other emergency management professionals.
  • Meet with the State Emergency Management Agency. Component representatives should seek advice and guidance from appropriate state officials. Emphasize that you are working to help them and ask for their recommendations to move forward with their cooperation to enter into the chain of command in the event of a disaster.
  • Build your network of professional volunteers. Work with your point person and AIA National to organize an AIA Disaster Assistance Training Session. Your point person should maintain a roster of trained architects in your state.
  • Establish a long-term Disaster Assistance State Coordinator. This person should have experience responding to at least one disaster and be qualified to conduct additional AIA training sessions for architects within your state. This person should also be committed to serve in the role for 3 years and be responsible for identifying a potential replacement.

You may encounter challenges along the way – particularly when you attempt to integrate into your state’s emergency management agency. AIA National, CACE, and many other state components will be able to provide additional information, advocacy strategies, and other forms of assistance as your state program is established. Remember, Components who have pursued these goals before you have found it to be immensely rewarding and more than worth the effort. Good Luck!

 

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