BCS nonprofits take key steps through the phases of emergency management following Hurricane Odile: Response, Recovery, Mitigation, and Planning

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* The International Community Foundation continues to support disaster relief on the Baja California Peninsula

In mid-September 2014, immediately on the heels of Hurricane Odile, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, the International Community Foundation (ICF), a San Diego-based philanthropic organization, reached out to its nonprofit partners in the region to learn about their response during the disaster and to assess damage for future recovery efforts. At the same time, ICF and several local partners began collecting donations to support disaster relief. Over $500,000 in individual gifts were contributed to ICF’s Baja California Disaster Relief Fund and its agency funds, including the Solmar Foundation, Fundación Ayuda Niños La Paz, Liga M.A.C., Palapa Society, the East Cape Community Urgent Care Clinic, and Amigos de los Niños. Additionally, ICF encouraged its partner, the Inter-American Development Bank, to commit $200,000 for immediate disaster relief efforts through the Mexican Red Cross.

ICF’s partners and grantees in southern Baja California sprang into action to respond to the immediate needs of those most impacted by the hurricane, the first phase of emergency

management. In the Los Cabos area, the Solmar Foundation created a collection center, welcoming donations of water, food, clothing and household items, which were shared with the many nonprofit organizations they support. Liga M.A.C. opened its damaged doors to offer basic supplies and medical aid to families in need, even without power and water at its own facility. Amigos de Los Niños made sure the families of their pediatric patients had the food and medicine they required. Despite physical damage, Los Niños del Capitan took in the children of families who had lost everything, giving them a safe environment while their mothers sought out new living spaces. In La Paz, Fundación Ayuda Ninos La Paz and Centro Mujeres, collected and distributed supplies, including basic food and water, to local families in need. Waves for Water worked with the Waterkeeper Alliance to provide clean water and water filtration equipment to affected communities throughout the region. In total, ICF has granted close to $470,000 to support local groups’ response to the disaster.

In an effort to move from the response to the recovery phase, ICF’s Baja California Sur field representative, Cynthia Wickerink, convened a series of meetings of local organizations and other interested volunteers, where they mapped the response to ensure full coverage and they began planning the rebuilding effort. Wickerink explains that “these gatherings served as an opportunity for open communication between groups working on the ground to provide immediate needs after Odile, and to help ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the disaster relief phases to follow.”

The most recent fundraising effort came during the Todos Santos Music Festival in January 2015, during which the Palapa Society of Todos Santos raised almost $55,000 to aid in recovery and reconstruction in the region.

Moving into the mitigation and preparedness phase, at the end of January 2015, ICF partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Waterkeepers Baja California, and Fundación Cántaro Azul to organize two workshops on Disaster Risk Management for civil society organizations, one in La Paz with 35 participants and the other in Los Cabos with 36 in attendance. In these day-long events, UNDP representatives presented on the core concepts of risk management, then participants engaged in an interactive disaster simulation, evaluated the Hurricane Odile response, and made an inventory of resources and abilities to handle future contingencies. ICF is also funding an impact assessment in La Paz, which should be released in Spring 2015 and should help guide future planning for disaster relief in that municipality.

Charitable donations in support of ongoing and future relief efforts can be made to the Baja California Disaster Relief Fund at ICF:

  • Contributions by mail: Checks payable to the International Community Foundation, with Baja California Disaster Relief Fund in the memo line, can be sent to: Baja California Disaster Relief Fund c/o International Community Foundation 2505 N Avenue National City, CA 91950
  • Online contributions to the Baja California Disaster Relief Fund at the International Community Foundation may be made at: http://bit.ly/hurricaneodile
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