Use the Incident Command Team to convey post-wildfire hazards on the horizon, such as post-fire flooding, landscape stability changes, and water quality concerns.
Take advantage of broad community outreach opportunities. Public meetings, radio, TV, and social media are effective ways to spread risk messages and disseminate resources.Below are other tools to help with communication in the wake of a destructive wildfire.
- Identify a Post-Fire Coordinator: Even before the fire is contained, a post-fire coordinator (or a few coordinators) should be appointed to help with a coordinated community response. The transition from firefighting to fire recovery can be swift and bumpy. A post-fire coordinator can be a liaison between individuals, community, and agencies to make the transition smoother.
- Use ICT if possible: Become familiar with the Incident Command Team and Incident Command System. Public meetings with the ICT involved can be a good way to relay messages, risks, and resources.
- Use the After Fire Toolkit: Simple-to-apply outreach with pre-made brochure and PSA templates.
- Communicate safety risks early and often: Tips like those covered in the Immediate Safety page should be delivered through several mediums. Encourage your community to sign up for emergency notifications.
- Plan ahead to communicate post-fire impacts: The Oregon Silver Jackets Team built a Post-Wildfire Flood Playbook as a resource to communities affected by wildfire. Many of the resources, tools, and case studies apply to Washington.
Work with volunteers
Community recovery after a fire takes years. The Okanogan County Long Term Recovery Group is an extraordinary model for community organization and recovery actions. Disaster Case Managers from the OCLTRG ask “What does THIS person need to recover from THIS disaster in THIS community” as they work with fire survivors to build holistic recovery plans. You can use these additional suggestions to build organizational support.
- Get organizational help in disaster relief from online tools like recovers.org
- Identify a volunteer coordinator – someone to handle requests, track services and donations, and recruit volunteers if needed.
- Assess resources. Look for patient, well-organized people to help with admin and volunteer communications. Find folks willing to get dirty in the clean up efforts and keep safety paramount. Professional skills in accounting, legal, media, etc will be valuable.
- Monitor volunteer well being to avoid injury or fatigue.
- Maintain a volunteer database. It will come in handy throughout the life cycle of community recovery.