Emergency Preparedness: A Community-based Response

Floods, fires and winds cause serious threats to Native American communities and when emergencies arise, Partnership With Native Americans is often called as a first responder. As Tristan mentioned last week, in July, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reached out to PWNA; in August, the United Houma Nation did; and in October, the Lumbee Tribe did. PWNA was pleased to provide combined aid of $1.9 million in immediate relief for tribal citizens.

Our reservation partners view PWNA as a consistent and reliable resource and know that, in addition to “disaster” events, PWNA responds to smaller emergencies that are disruptive to local communities. In fact, over the past decade, PWNA responded to more than 55 disasters impacting Native American communities, with our aid benefiting 620,000 people.

Our experience with these kinds of disaster events has led PWNA to expand its role in emergency response, to keep up with the needs of tribal communities.


121316-pwna-arc-logosToday, PWNA is playing a bigger role as an intermediary, essentially connecting outside resources directly to the reservations. For example, in each of the three disaster events Tristan mentioned, PWNA provided aid, but also secured outside support to assist tribal citizens. PWNA has effectively partnered with the American Red Cross, the Walmart Foundation, the National Guard, Natural Resources and Fire management programs, regional food banks and members of VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) to provide emergency relief on the reservations.

PWNA is also playing a bigger role in disaster relief by supporting community-based emergency preparedness planning. Through community investment projects funded by the American Red Cross from 2015-16, PWNA is supporting capacity building within four tribal communities that are working to create community-based emergency response plans. The plans involve establishing logistics such as where to store critical emergency supplies within each community, identifying individuals interested in taking a lead for emergency preparedness and disaster response, and training these individuals as first responders and resources for community members in times of emergency.

The four communities are in the Northern Plains, including Cherry Creek and La Plant on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, and Payabya and Wamblee on the Pine Ridge Reservation. So far, more than 40 residents have been trained in CPR and first aid and helped to create an emergency response plan relevant to their respective communities. These communities have taken control of dealing with the unexpected and are ready to respond, immediately alleviating some of the stress and impact disasters can have on a community and its citizens.

Waiting for help to arrive is a stressful and daunting place to be when emergency strikes. All of PWNA’s emergency services are designed to alleviate this stress, from disaster relief, to outside resources, to emergency preparedness. Although PWNA prioritizes disaster relief in our 12-state service area, we encourage all tribal communities to remember PWNA as a first responder in your time of need.

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