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Disasters have two causes: first, the degree of exposure of people, infrastructure and economic activities to a physical event or hazard; and secondly, the vulnerability of those exposed to the hazard or shock. Disaster preparedness can both reduce the degree of exposure to hazards and reduce the vulnerability of those affected. It can therefore reduce the impacts of emergencies caused by natural disasters, allowing those affected to make a faster return to normal life and work.
We envision a community resurrected through empowered engagement in matters directly affecting its survival. The historical view of County of LA is an area of transistion. It is an area, like so many other American communities, where minorities, the working poor and lower middle classes, the elderly, and young people have been pushed to the periphery, without the education, training, skills, or motivation to participate in re-crafting their communities for 21st Century survival. Outside of the dialogue are their views and perspectives on what is needed, how to achieve those ends, and what they, specifically, can do to move the agenda along. They have been disempowered by external assumptions that they do not care and have little to contribute. Particularly in the area of disasters and disaster management, the historical model has all but completely excluded those most at risk of destructive disaster impacts from the planning, preparedness, response, relief, and recovery tables. All too often, this group was simply considered victims in need of the service of others; and all too often, the response, relief, and recovery operations failed to recognize their strength, resilience, and integrity or to restore them to some semblance of real normalcy. However, this has begun to be completely dispelled by recent catastrophic disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Disaster victims recognize that must take on a central role when disaster threatens.
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Partnering with NICECO on this effort is The Asheville Global Services Group (AGSG), Inc., a national, minority, female controlled corporation, expert in disaster preparedness, response, relief, and recovery. AGSG provides consulting services for the development of education and outreach strategies for disaster preparedness and it is an important asset in disaster planning, asset management and allocation, disaster relief strategies, community stabilization and recovery, and disaster mitigation. The Asheville Global Services Group is committed to ensuring that the views of the broader community are taken into account. To do this, it directs its efforts to identify, screen, recruit, and train a broader cross-section of community stakeholders, including minorities, the elderly, people with disabilities and challenges, individuals with limited English abilities, residents with limited income and resources, and youth.