In the Eye of the Storm: A People's Guide to Transforming Crisis & Advancing Equity in the Disaster Continuum

This Guide developed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) discusses how low-income, communities of color, and other frontline communities are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change, extreme weather, and other natural and human-caused disasters (like industrial accidents or chemical contamination). To address these disproportionate risks, the Guide provides a framework for helping communities embed considerations of equity in all phases of emergency management: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, resilience building, recovery, and redevelopment. The Guide was developed for NAACP Units and their Environmental and Climate Justice Committees, but it may be more broadly useful for community-based organizations, state and local government officials, other emergency management professionals, and individuals affected by disasters. 

Develop strategies and response plans for ensuring equity in emergency response and recovery efforts.

This resource was featured in the October 4, 2018, ASAP Newsletter.

"The NAACP has developed an action toolkit to empower frontline communities to respond in disaster and emergency situations. The toolkit offers guidance on how communities can monitor for equity in disaster response and advance an equitable disaster policy platform. The toolkit also includes components for addressing environmental and climate justice, and the relationship between disaster management and civil rights."


The Guide is organized into six modules:

  • Module 1 - Big Picture on Equity-Based Emergency Management: This module provides a big picture outline for advancing equity in emergency management including core principles of equity in emergency management. 
  • Module 2 - Emergency Prevention and Mitigation: Module 2 guides organizations through a process for conducting a risk assessment (including recommended tools for conducting risk assessments) and developing a mitigation plan.
  • Module 3 - Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Building: This module describes strategies for community-based responses to disaster events, including resources for equity-based emergency management training and establishing community-response teams. This module also provides resources describing differential impacts for African American and other frontline communities and for building social cohesion as a strategy for managing the shocks of disaster events. Guidance is also provided on how to craft an equitable emergency response plan that identifies and addresses preexisting factors contributing to vulnerability (age, race, income, disability, English language skills, housing quality, mobility, access to health services, etc.). 
  • Module 4 - Emergency Response and Relief: Module 4 describes processes for assessing disaster services, conducting damage assessments, advocating for emergency disaster declarations to obtain federal funds for response and recovery, monitoring the effectiveness of disaster response, and submitting a civil rights, consumer, or environmental complaint in the aftermath of a disaster. This module provides an overview of federal, state, and local disaster assistance and the roles of private organizations in emergency response. It includes information about how to apply for disaster assistance, the information needed to apply, and processes for filing an appeal if disaster aid is denied. Forms, charts, and instructions are provided to help organizations conduct preliminary impact assessments, monitor the effectiveness of disaster responses, and file complaints with a focus on capturing impacts on vulnerable and marginalized groups and individuals.
  • Module 5 - Emergency Recovery and Redevelopment: This module describes strategies for incorporating equity in both short- and long-term recovery, including conducting needs assessments, convening a community visioning process, and completing a racial equity impact assessment. It provides forms for conducting an immediate needs assessment and racial equity impact assessment in disaster-affected communities and instructions for facilitating a community-vision process for post-disaster recovery (with examples of community-driven response plans in Appendix G). It also discusses how Community Benefits Agreements can be used to deliver other community benefits (jobs, recreational spaces, health services) during disaster recovery efforts.
  • Module 6 - Advocating for Equity in Emergency Management Policy: The final module describes policies and strategies for crafting an equitable emergency management policy. Charts describe the equity challenges in measures and policies that affect emergency management, response, and recovery, including: infrastructure systems such as levees, housing policies, representation and training of first responders, immigration policies, the criminal justice systems, the healthcare system, and more. This module also provides recommendations for advancing equity in emergency management and includes information about how to craft and advocate for legislative fixes to emergency management systems.

Appendices include: (A) a glossary of key terms, (B) key organizations and resources on emergency management, (C) monitoring tools, (D) sample training agendas, (E) state emergency management agencies, (F) information about federal disaster aid programs, (G) example community vision plans, (H) NAACP resources, and (I) training opportunities.

Publication Date: September 26, 2018

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  • Planning guides
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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