CDP's Disaster Playbook, Resiliency Planning in Action

Shown above: the aftermath of the Chapman, KS tornado, courtesy of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy 

No matter how strong a community may be, a disaster will test that strength. A disaster will also expose any weaknesses, usually quickly and in ways that can hamper a community’s recovery for years. 
Knowing what disasters your community is most at risk for, along with how a disaster will affect core functions of your community is key to preparing for a disaster. That’s exactly what the Disaster Playbook was designed to do – help communities think through how a disaster will affect them and plan and prepare to respond when it happens. Because it will happen.
Available at, this innovative resource was launched in January 2016 as a joint project of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, in association with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.
The Disaster Playbook is centered on 15 strategies, including community and economic recovery; education; health and behavioral health; aging and disabled populations; arts and culture; environment; and others. Input from more than 50 public and private organizations who have responded to disasters in their communities was collected during the process of creating the Disaster Playbook. 
The Playbook is designed to be personal and customized. When you visit the Playbook, you’ll be prompted to create a My Playbook account. This allows users to save pieces of the Disaster Playbook most applicable to their work, creating their own mini playbook. This individualized Disaster Playbook can then be shared with others via email or social media. 
Feedback and resources from those who have dealt with disasters first-hand is an essential part of the continued success of the Playbook, making it something that will continue to grow.
During the coming year, we’ll be working hard to revamp and update much of the Playbook with lessons learned from the many disasters of 2017. It’s also worth noting that the Midwest is in the midst of tornado season and hurricane season is rapidly approaching. I hope you’ll spend some time internally with your staff and partners thinking through how prepared you are for a disaster and where you can improve. If you need places to start, check out the Playbook’s Mitigation and Preparedness strategy and any strategies, such as housing, that you work in directly.
We hope you’ll find ways to use the Disaster Playbook to make your community stronger and more innovative in the face of disasters!
Anna R. Hurt is the Assistant Director, Disasters and Grants at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.