Saturday, October 14, 2006

Leadership Needed

Posted by: "wavelandcitizensfund" wavelandcitizensfund
Thu Nov 2, 2006 5:15 am (PST)
Developing The Katrina Workforce – a new phase in recovery
Kathleen Johnson
In order to continue to meet thedemands of housing we need to move away from some of the tradition waysof delivering services and develop a new model for disaster recovery inthe reconstruction phase.
A number of factors are influencing the rate of reconstruction in this area – enormity of the volume of damaged or destroyed homes, falling numbers of volunteers, lack of planned orchestrated national marketing on area needs, new building codes, shortage of materials, recent large annexations, workforce housing issues, staffing retention issues, politics, and equipment shortages at local government offices, difficulties in recruiting and retention of both skilled trades workforce and volunteers, and integration of free enterprise and a volunteer workforce.
With up to 80,000 homes to refurbish or rebuild in Gulf Coast Region– residents are now facing the reality that contractors are short in supply as are volunteers. There is now an even more urgent need to develop a work force in the face of 15,000 Phase I grant recipients coming down the pike with enough funds for materials and, in some cases, enough to hire contractors. Traditionally this area has built only 1500 new homes per year. We now need to think outside the box to meet the areas critical needs – housing not only for residents but for workers needed to construct that housing.
No home at the Inn
The issue facing contractors, employees, and volunteers alike is that there is no home at the Inn. Housing is critically short in supply for people wanting to move to the area to work for local contractors. Many of the contractors have complained about the need for more employees to increase output. With the only alternative being a long commute from outlying areas – the time benefit of cost versus travel time makes it a long term retention problem. Employees tire of the travel and theturn over of employees is high.
With many volunteer organizations exhausting their funds – housingoptions are becoming increasingly short in supply for volunteers wanting to come down to assist in the construction effort. The latest phase in volunteer housing is that the free accommodation for volunteers is rare anymore. Instead you will find a $10 - $25 a day charge from organizations willing to accommodate volunteers. This charge is necessary to cover the utility and maintenance costs of these facilities as donations wither on the vine from a public whose interests have waned due to lack of news coverage on the continuing urgent need.
Goals to aid in development of an effective diverse workforce
* Fundamental to recovery is a flexible appropriate-skilled workforce which is able to deliver effective solutions to a diverse set of construction requirements.
* Identify the factors influencing recruitment and retention problems for volunteers, contractors and subcontractors.
* Ensure the skill mix accurately meets the needs of the residents
* Improve the quality of workmanship delivered by contractors and volunteer contributors through training of staff to work differently, in new ways and in new settings.
* Develop new and different rolls within the Disaster Response community to provide more effective integration of licensed contractors, subcontractors and volunteers
* Volunteer organizations need to support a balanced shift of skills and services into the contractor arena in order to not to interfere in the free enterprise system
* Develop training avenues for residents who are currently in a role redesign mode as they become the contractor on their own homes.
* Develop a region wide marketing plan to attract an appropriately trained volunteers and skilled workforce.
The analysis of the workforce requirements needs to be fully understood in order to develop a sound solution for recruitment and retention.
Documenting exact current needs would fall on a comprehensive and accurate needs assessment – which we currently do not have completed. Hancock County, at last report, only had 1,400 assessments in an area where there are 46,000 residents. This data should be developed quickly in order to realize accurate predictions on needs for recruitment, housing needs, and allow for accurate predictions on recovery timelines.
If a comprehensive plan for workforce development is not addressed in short order – we are going to find residents waiting on long lists lasting months to years for assistance to start rebuilding their home seven with funds in hand from Phase I grants and ultimately Phase IIgrants.

Resource Brokering - A Katrina Enigma
(written and) Posted by: "Kathleen Johnson"
Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:30 am (PST)
Kathleen Johnson is a long term volunteer who has been working inMississippi since just after the storm. Currently Kathleen is working at the City of Waveland City Hall under the umbrella of the WavelandCitizens Fund a 501 ( c ) 3 as the Director of Katrina Relief.
Disaster Relief Organizations, in long term recovery, often speak different languages. This is because their mission statements are gaps in an effective bridge to recovery when the focus is on the differences and not the ultimate goal – recovery for the client impacted by this disaster. These gaps affect the ability of long term recovery entities and case managers to provide services when providers of resources fail to understand the implications of the practice of information and resource brokering.
What is Information Brokering?
Information brokering, the business of buying and selling information as a commodity, has been around for a long time. The common practices seen here on the ground, in the aftermath of Katrina, shows a need for professional accountability and other issues that surround questions that have been raised about the ongoing issue of the lack of resource lists and true accountability for "where is the beef". Where arethe 2x4's, the sheetrock, the insulation, the wiring, thevolunteers, and the available grants.
Who is responsible for managing this information and how do you get on those lists? There is a great need for effective information and resource dissemination for those working in long term recovery in the aftermath of Katrina. Teamwork should be the goal with their sights set firmly on building a network among themselves and their colleagues and on aiding struggling homeowners. Unfortunately, what I am seeing is "Information Brokering" and"Resource Brokering" in a struggle for "power and control" in an arena where ego has become the driving engine.
Information on manpower, money and materials is shared sparingly or on a need to know basis.
Professional Accountability
We must require professional accountability to improve the accessibility of relevant materials and information to all Case Managers, Resource Managers, and those working directly in re-construction. Decision maker's actions affect the availability of long-term care services and the ways in which they are organized and delivered. The current standard is that you must show up to the numerous and multiple meetings of the various committees where information is verbally given with minimal handouts. Minutes are not provided for these meetings on the resources discussed, training available, and votes taken on policy and practices.
At the last General Meeting of the Hancock Long Term RecoveryCommittee - the attendees were told to call the office of Long Term Recovery every time they missed a meeting so they could be told, verbally, of everything that transpired at the meeting they missed. Someof these meetings can be two hours long. Given the number of volunteers and Case Mangers can number into the hundreds at any given time - this is not a solution at all but problematic.
This limiting data sharing technique is typical of a pattern that is evolving out of the HancockCounty Long Term Recovery Committee
There needs to be minutes of meetings, held under the umbrella of theHancock County Long Term Recovery Committee, to share relevant data that is not privy by privacy issues related to personal information. This should include all available training, resources, grants, and updated information on the status of grants the Long Term Committee has pending for operating expenses, funds for clients, and new employees such as the proposed Construction Coordinator. These minutes need to be delivered to all of the Case Mangers and DRO's known to the Hancock Long Term Recovery Committee that are operation, or have operated, in HancockCounty. The information needs to be published on the official website of the Long Term Recovery Committee DRO's who have resources meant to be "shared" need to become part of the recovery team and deliver their information in the same manner.
The circle of "favorites" needs to be expanded to include "all" and not "some". Current information practices are akin to information and resource brokering and it is creating a disjointed delivery of services due to lack of information, misinformation due to word of mouth dissemination of information, and lack of service to those most in need – those affected by Katrina.
Recovery is paramount on teamwork. We have 15,000 plus grants coming down the pike here in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We need to fine tune our engine sooner than later. Now would be a good time.

In Hancock County: After The Vines Of Summer – The Need For A Master Plan
Kathleen Johnson 10/10/06 Special to GCN Filed 10/12/06
Kathleen Johnson is a long term volunteer who has been working in Mississippi since just after the storm. Currently Kathleen is working at the City of Waveland City Hall under the umbrella of the Waveland Citizens Fund a 501 ( c ) 3 as the Director of Katrina Relief.
The reality in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi can be seen in the building permits in the front window of almost every home fading fast due to the hot summers sun analogous to the hopes of the occupants battling insurance companies, waiting on long promised grants, and waiting on volunteers to complete work when materials become available.
It is impossible to reconcile the incongruity between volunteers helping the people of Waveland and developers seeking to profit from reconstruction. And added to that dilemma is the reality that neither money nor an updated building code is going to save the area from the next devastating storm with a 20 foot tidal surge. It happened before in 1969, it happened in 2005, and it will happen again. The rest of the world believes this is all “fixed” and have moved to other endeavors and interests.
We, as volunteers, toil on as this is all part of the long term recovery plan for those that have chosen to stay. Owners of 80,000 homes in Mississippi want to get their homes built in the next six months. Reality dictates it will take up to five years. Someone will be first, someone will be last. All are on one waiting list or another. All believe they are at the top of the list somewhere and no one wants to burst their bubble and suggest that we might have to go to a lottery for volunteer assistance in order to make this equitable.
Summer has hidden a lot of the remaining debris in the vegetation. Winter approaches fast and nature will reveal all that long lost debris from under the vines of summer. FEMA is left to track down and haul off the dwindling elusive debris one piece at a time and note the spiraling unit cost of cleanup. Now it’s down to “hunt and peck” whereas before it was everywhere and within easy reach.
The Long Term Recovery Committees battle politics – both internal and external brought on by the lack of true leadership, funds, the never ending grant writing saga and a critical shortage of Case Mangers – paid or volunteer. Post traumatic stress is showing clearly on the long term volunteers who have remained steadfast despite the overwhelming demands on their time and dwindling volunteer resources due to lack of preemptive marketing. No one allowed a budget for a marketing plan to recruit volunteers. No one is truly marketing on a National scale as there is no entity in charge of that part of the equation. Nor has any organization stepped in to take on that task although many have suggested it would be a “good idea” at the never ending meetings coordinators and case managers attend on a weekly basis. The Hancock Long Term Recovery Committee can not even agree to give its participating members a list of the homes they have accepted into the program – the net result some organizations find themselves working on a home that is on the LTRC list by accident and not by design thus complicating the LTRC response. Of the 46 projects the LTRC have accepted that fit their stringent guidelines – only one has been completed and it has been weeks since any of the Case Mangers have been given an update. Any complaints are ignored and emails remained unanswered with the committee leaders believing the problems will go away if they avoid the issues.
And the success is measured one house at a time – and events are truly a joyous. No one really knows how many – no one entity is collecting the data. Prior to the storm Waveland had 10,000 residents. At the anniversary of Katrina in 2006 it was estimated that 2,500 had come back home. No one really knows – the needs assessment for Hancock County has only returned 1400 complete responses for the entire County. By design the method of data collection for the Needs Assessment was going to reveal a hit and miss response as there was no follow up on the non responsive addresses. Paperwork is so overwhelming that most have long tired of requests to fill in forms – so a non responsive address does not reveal a true result.
Nor do we know how many volunteers are on the ground, the organizations they represent, or their long term plans on continued assistance. There never was a mandate to register the volunteers or the organizations. The structure of assistance is a conglomerate that forces the home owners to go from church to church, disaster relief organization to disaster relief organization – registering on each and every list they can find.
The lack of an overall plan for reconstruction is clearly showing in the end result – slow return of the region to its former population levels, and the fact that only 12,000 trailers have been returned in Mississippi alone in over a year since the storm.
It is time for a Volunteer Summit with all participating Volunteer Organizations invited in order to develop a comprehensive plan and elect a panel to oversee the volunteer response and develop a marketing plan to attract more volunteers. This panel needs a true leader; consisting of members with a comprehensive vision and the patience and wisdom of Job who truly have worked in the trenches on the ground and know the nuts of bolts of what it takes to get the job done. They must be able to separate themselves from ego, overwhelming personalities, personal agendas and individual mission statements of the participating organizations and work towards an end result that benefits all the victims equitably despite their varying fiscal abilities to recover. It is time to develop a comprehensive recovery Master Plan.

Kathleen Johnson
Hancock County Long Term Volunteer
Director Katrina Relief / Board Member Waveland Citizens Fund
Waveland City Hall #8, 335 Colemane Ave., Waveland, Ms. 39576
Office (228) 467-3425


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