Feature Article - August 2011
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Dealing With Disaster

Disaster Plans Are Vital for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities

By Deborah L. Vence

THE NRPA also suggested these steps
  • Include park and recreation facilities when allocating funding for personnel and recovery efforts.
  • Support federal and state government entities in damage assessments and relief efforts following a disaster.

Other steps to consider in disaster recovery include the following, suggested Peg Smith of the ACA.

  • Having backups of all electronic files readily available.
  • Having individuals off-site available to help with necessary communication (create a team).
  • In the event the site is damaged, have a relocation plan.
  • Work closely with insurance providers prior to the season to ensure proper coverage. For example, to cover costs in the event your kitchen burns down and you have to rent equipment to create a temporary kitchen.

John Hopper, New Orleans City Park (NOCP) chief development officer and public affairs director, said that it was helpful that the park already had a plan in place when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans City Park.

"It helped us to have a plan. Having plan in place really helps. In retrospect, it would've been easier in our negotiations if we had more photographs of all of our buildings and content," he said, adding that it's important that everything be photographed and taped so that when it comes down to having to prove what belongings you had, you have photos to show of what was actually there.

"For us, you can never anticipate everything. In retrospect, do we wish our archives were on the second floor instead of the first floor? Yes. But, no one knew that when we left that part of the park that it was going to be under four feet of water," he added.

California State Parks has emergency response plans that address continuity—how they are going to continue through an emergency, and how they are going to be dispatching with park rangers.

California State Parks are split into districts, as well.

"Each park unit has an emergency response plan for that unit," said Tony Perez, deputy director of park operations, California State Parks. "We know our inventory. And, depending on the emergency, it spells out how we're going to react."

Perez noted that fires in California have had devastating effects on Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and other parks within the state.