It seems that lately, all you see is news of the next natural disaster. The disaster response gets some publicity, but what about the rebuild? You never see those rebuilding the communities. Rebuilding sustainable communities is the key. In this post I will discuss all of these parts, and how we should rebuild our communities to be more sustainable, and less susceptible to the same disasters.
I am not a construction expert, nor am I a member of a response group. This being said, there are bound to a minor conceptual error or two, but this is basically just the brainstorming portion of a community rebuild list. It is designed to be used for ALL disasters, but the only way to think of it is for a specific disaster, so read it and adapt it for the disaster of your choice.
Let’s say that we are in a small town in East Tennessee. The town was just destroyed by an F4 tornado. Only a few were injured, and a couple killed. Several people had home insurance, but a few did not. Like most small towns, there are many members in construction.
First thing we do is allow the Red Cross to do what they were set up to do. Don’t expect their response to be quick or efficient. Even with the problems associated with the Red Cross, they can be of some help. We should allow any and ALL private assistance, such as church organizations and other small non-profits.
Any member of the community should use the resources that they have to assist others to get basic damage control and cleanup finished. Repair broken fencing, give the new homeless a room in your home, etc. There are millions of posts about the response on the web, so lets focus more on the post response rebuilding.
First, a large call to action for all of the local and regional businesses. The larger the business, the more expendable funds. But lets be honest, local businesses are the ones that are to really gain from their involvement. You change your involvement from the local shop, to a hero. Noone is asking for you to give out your best stuff (unless you wanted to) but to come up with a cost effective and efficient process to cover the community needs.
Clothing Shops, give very basic clothing to community members (absolutely NOTHING that is the latest trend, we need to save money).
Grocery stores and resteaurants, work together to provide everyone with basic foods. We are talking about rices, oats, basic veggies. This is a temporary diet change, so the more expensive, higher quality foods are not really necessary. The grocery and restaurant have the best connections to procure cheap foods. An efficient system should be designed to get the food to people.
Construction crews, businesses, contractors, and engineers should be working together. New homes will need to be built. Trailers are fine for a VERY short time, what is really needed is to build new permanent homes.
The design of these homes should completely change from the norm. The modern method of homebuilding is completely horrid and inefficient. What do we do? Build small earthships with window based AC units. We should build with sustainable energies. First we should implement things like, wells with both electric AND hand pumps. Heat is easily fixed with sun UV heat collection. Direct heat to heat is most efficient. Before using the AC unit, we construct a sunblocking roof over, but unattached to the earthships. Small sprinkler systems on the roof, and allow wind to flow between the roof and earthship. I say at least a 2-4 foot gap.
Earthships will cover tornados, but earthquakes can be seen in the area. Earthships are susceptible to earthquakes to some extent, but less so than a typical structure. We construct safety furniture that holds up if the home comes down. This post will cover a company doing these designs, but I think an air tube is necessary to keep people alive until they can be rescued from their “safety pod” in that situation.
The community at a neighborhood level should be constructed with each neighborhood having a community area for gardening, and to do with what they wish. Each member of the neighborhood will do what they wish on their own property.
This is basically a time to rebuild the LAND & STRUCTURES to those that are more conducive to a permaculture design, and to be able to do it on (dare I say it), the insurance companies’ dimes. I know there will be red tape, but we can do everything in our power to make our designs fit in with their guidelines.
The land should be resurfaced to include principles that will harvest water and the natural abundances of sun and wind. Like I said, none of this stuff is free, but it is only available to those that have proven to be putting in time, sweat, and tears into the rebuilding process. With everyone, especially the local businesses, involved, there is much less money required to rebuild.
Everyone has the OPTION to be included in the rebuild or not, but those individuals that opt out will not get the generosity that can be used on the other generous people. Businesses would be wise not to opt out since they would probably be demonized and will soon be out of business.
Most of the efforts should be private, and be catered to those that are assisting efforts, so the labor input isn’t lost.
Once rebuilding has been so underway that many are able to normalize again, the neighborhoods should become more involved with each other. All outside assistance, although it was probably done as a donation not to be paid back, should be paid back, at least to some extent as a thank you. Everyone outside that helped should be brought into the community to see the fruits of their labor and a feast or two in their honors.
I know that this system is ideal at best, but it is a jumping off point if any small towns want to use any of the ideals written here.
Now to the communities… Before disaster strikes, it would be very smart and advantageous to become one that works together voluntarily. You only have to gain from this and the relationships that result.
Enter the challenge for: