The Joplin Disaster Recovery Summit – Real People, Real Experiences, Real Lessons

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JP3Five years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting an inspirational woman and her daughter.  I wrote about them in a blog post  for Firestorm called “A Real World Crisis Crowd: How 3 people with 2 iPhones set a social media communications standard.” Rebecca and Genevieve Williams of Neosho, Mo, and David Burton, documented their experience in the aftermath of the Joplin Tornado in a comprehensive white paper, one we were pleased to share.

Now, five years later, The Joplin Proud committee led by Jane Cage and comprised of community volunteers who each felt the call to help will recognize this significant date in history through a summit: The Joplin Disaster Recovery Summit – Real People, Real Experiences, Real Lessons 

The Joplin Disaster Recovery Summit encourages peer participation at a unique disaster recovery summit told entirely through the lens and experience of community leaders and elected officials. 

The Joplin Disaster Recovery Summit, May 19-20, 2016, is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to hear lessons learned from communities across the Midwest that experienced some of the worst natural disasters from the last decade. The two-day summit offers first-hand perspectives from leaders and elected officials guiding communities through the long-term process of community recovery that continues even today. 

The conference kicks off with a panel discussion, “The Road to Resilience,” featuring the mayors and city managers from disaster-affected communities, including Greensburg, Kansas; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Moore, Oklahoma; Minot, North Dakota; Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri. The panel will be moderated by Beth Freeman, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VII (Kansas City).  

Breakout sessions cover a range of topics for community leaders, emergency managers, mental health professionals, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, and government agencies at every level. Keynote speaker, Dr. Leonard Marcus, from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Public Policy, will speak on “Crisis Leadership.” Other summit topics include the stress placed on leaders, helping children and adults through the grief process using innovative programming, preventing population loss through temporary and permanent housing, and how disaster resources and relief vary from disaster to disaster. Check back often as more information and details are added each week. 

The $75 registration fee includes all conference sessions, printed materials, meals and snacks for this not-for-profit event. The Summit is limited to the first 300 attendees.

Scholarship assistance for hotel accommodations and partial travel reimbursement may be possible. For more information, see the frequently asked questions page.

  • Every panel is comprised of leaders and elected officials that have lived through disasters in their own community. They have real-world experience that has given them an outlook that goes beyond any training and are willing to share their successes and their failures.
  • It’s a conference that chronicles the journey from response to recovery to resilience with communities that continue their recovery even today.
  • Panelists are coming from across the center of the country – Minot, ND; Pilger, NE; Cedar Rapids, IA; Greensburg, KS; Joplin, MO; Vilonia, AR and Tuscaloosa, AL. Each community was deeply affected by a disaster in the last decade.
  • Breakout sessions cover topics such as donations management, debris removal, the factors that determine recovery resources, the stress of long-term leadership, housing solutions to maintain population levels post-disaster, citizen engagement, helping children post-disaster, and ways to return lost photographs and lost pets.
  • Leonard Marcus from Harvard University, the conference keynote speaker, explores how leaders can lead more effectively during a crisis as well as the phenomenon of Swarm Intelligence and how it multiplies recovery efforts.
  • The conference is affordable. The $75 registration fee is meant to cover meals and materials. It’s organized by community members that want to pay it forward for the many kindnesses that Joplin received. Scholarships are available in special circumstances.
  • If you’re interested in seeing the progress Joplin has made in recovery since the 2011 tornado, there are opportunities for guided tours and to attend other commemorative events.

An example of one of the breakout sessions: See the full agenda

Facts in Flux –  Crisis Communication after a Disaster:

A disaster requires deliberate and accurate communication inside your organization, with residents and business owners, and a concerned public. Each audience has an insatiable need for information. Hear the perspectives of communication officials across the spectrum of community agencies and media outlets about balancing accuracy, privacy and timeliness during a crisis. Come away from the session understanding what questions to expect, how and when to communicate and effective ways to broadcast needed information – and all of this under pressure.

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