BRACE (Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Escambia County, Florida, that works to make our community disaster resilient through public-private partnerships to educate, train, and engage donors and volunteers. BRACE’s mission is to make Escambia County the most disaster resilient community in the nation. BRACE is a true public – private partnership. The over 500 Partners of BRACE represent 12 community sectors including Public, Private, Faith Based, Non-profit and Community. Each is considered a member of the Citizen Corps Council. It is through the engagement of Partners and their employees, members, students and congregants that BRACE has experienced its success in engaging and mobilizing the community. Together with our partners, we are accomplishing what would be impossible for a single organization.
The number one lesson learned from the 2004 & 2005 Hurricane Seasons is that government cannot do it alone. Whole community involvement is required to be fully prepared for the impact of a disaster. Mitigation efforts must also be carried out at the community level, to see lessened effects after a disaster strikes.
BRACE has responded to this lesson by creating plans for Needs Assessment, Warehousing, Disaster Case Management, and other Recovery functions. Today BRACE serves as the convener and coordinator of the Escambia County Long Term Recovery Group. BRACE partners with governmental groups that serve as key partners in providing access to State Housing Assistance Partnership (SHIP), in providing access to Community Development Block Grants – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), and in funding and assisting with future land use and building code issues.
BRACE is engaging its Partners in all four phases of Emergency Management, Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Mitigation on an ongoing basis. BRACE is prepared to immediately transition to response when disaster threatens or emergencies impact our community. Once the response phase concludes, disaster relief efforts transition to recovery to address the unmet disaster caused needs of survivors. BRACE and our Partners fill the gaps in Escambia County Emergency Management and their 4 staff members. Emergency Management representatives frequently speak about the “gaps” in service prior to the founding of BRACE that our Partners have helped fill.
Much of our present mission focus is in large part to facilitate training for and engagement with emergency response activities for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. We are currently endeavoring to stand up three (3) college CERT teams on local campuses within our area of responsibility and would use print and direct mail services to print materials for the support of training objectives, informing campus communities, engagement activities, and informational distribution for students, their families, and child education. We presently use printed materials for table events within the community ranging from information booths informing the public of community programs to educational outreach initiatives delivered by our youth engagement coordinator. Print plays a heavy roll because our intent to access the greatest levels of our community with many participants being from low income, veteran, and other special communities that lack reliable access to technology for access to FEMA training or resources, or similar mission partners or support agencies within the local community.
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