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British Columbia and Understanding Community Resilience

By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

Recently, British Columbia experienced devastating flooding, downed trees, downed power lines and landslides as the result of excessive rainfall. Due to the scale of this disaster, it will take a lot for the affected communities to recover. 

A recent National Post article argues that this incident will also force British Columbia to accept the realities of climate change. In addition, the disaster should force lawmakers to better understand the strong arguments in support of community resilience.

Related link: British Columbia: Are We Ever Really Prepared for Disasters?

What Is Community Resilience?

Community resilience is a particularly important sociological concept that has been researched for decades. Community resilience means that communities need to develop strong infrastructure and networks so that when disasters happen, the community can bounce back to normality easily and quickly. 

For instance, communities must have the appropriate collaboration in place between government agencies and nonprofit organizations. In addition, communities must stay up to date on necessary resources and ensure that various structures (such as bridges and roads) are in good repair so that they are able to withstand severe weather.

Related link: For Major Disasters, All Management Is Ultimately Local

Disasters Are Affected by Administration and Infrastructure Problems

It is easy to watch a disaster like the one in British Columbia unfold and think that it was simply more than communities could handle. In some respects, this line of thought is true because any major disaster is the result of compromised, overwhelmed resources. 

But as we have learned from multiple emergency management research articles, disasters are largely the result of problematic emergency management administration and policy infrastructure. As countless emergency management scholars note, “There is no such thing as a natural disaster.”   

Due to infrastructure problems, it will take British Columbia’s communities a while to rebuild after such devastation. Preparedness planning helps in many respects, but it takes much more than planning to keep a community safe from major disasters. Resilience efforts simply must be strengthened to help the community bounce back.

As Hunter’s article notes, British Columbia may need to come to terms with the realities of climate change. More importantly, provincial communities will need to work together to bounce back quickly before the next major disaster, which can serve as an important lesson to U.S. emergency managers.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. She is also chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program. Prior to teaching, Allison worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. She is an emergency medical technician and holds multiple graduate degrees.

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