A missed opportunity

Published 2:03 pm Friday, March 10, 2017

Area residents had an opportunity last week to provide input on how emergency-management personnel help with recovery efforts after a disaster such as a hurricane. They did not avail themselves of that opportunity.

State and local emergency-management officials scheduled a meeting at which people could offer their suggestions on how those officials could better respond after hurricanes. Other than those officials and one reporter, no one else attended the meeting.

The North Carolina General Assembly wants a plan from each of the state’s 49 counties declared disaster areas after Hurricane Matthew as to how they and the state as a whole will use resilient redevelopment planning as part of their overall recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

Having such a plan makes the county eligible for current and future grants from state and federal agencies, according to John Pack, the county’s emergency-management director. “What we’re looking for is if people out there have ideas on how to do something better, if we can get the grant money. There’s things we’re going to put out. There are things the contractor assigned to us to help develop this plan is going to put out. It’s going to try to stimulate the people present,” Pack said last week. “What we’re looking for are the things that give us resiliency.”

Perhaps it’s the nature of the beast: people don’t show up to provide suggestions on how to improve disaster response, but after a disaster have no problem telling officials how things should have been done. Such people can’t be bothered to provide input that could improve disaster response, but they have no problem pointing fingers and blaming others when they are not pleased with responses.

These people need to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

“The key to success of these plans is your investment of time and expertise. The plans must accurately reflect the storm’s impact to your community and your ideas for resilient housing, infrastructure, ecosystem and economic development,” wrote Gov. Roy Cooper in a letter to county managers, municipal managers and other key stakeholders in the 49 counties.

He’s right. Developing these plans takes time and investment. Those unwilling to take the time and make that investment should not complain if unhappy with future disaster recoveries. They had an opportunity to offer suggestions, but did not do so.

Luckily, other meetings on developing these plans will be conducted.

Hopefully, area residents will show up and offer meaningful suggestions.