On Tuesday, more than 100 Choice Partners members learned the complexities of disaster recovery strategy and funding compliance during the division’s workshop, “Filing Your Disaster Procurement Flight Plan.” The three-hour hybrid seminar was led by Disaster Recovery Services (DRS), a Houston-based risk consulting firm that holds a current contract with Choice.
With hurricane season approaching, the workshop provided private nonprofits and public entities such as school districts, municipalities, and state agencies with tools to develop a recovery procurement plan specific to their organization. The plans help organizations maintain eligibility for reimbursement through federal disaster funds and mitigate damages following a disaster.
The key is following stringent compliance standards, says DRS Director of Procurement Specialty Shelley Vineyard.
“The more understanding you have of the procurement rules you need to follow before a disaster hits, the more you’ll optimize the funding your organization can receive to help restore your community and make it more resilient,” said Vineyard. “Preparation is key so that you don’t make those mistakes and have to course-correct after millions of dollars have been spent.”
Through the workshop, participants gleaned actionable exercises and strategies that can be implemented in their “flight plans.” They learned how to select a funding source, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and follow the most restrictive rules across local, state, and federal recovery grants.
The members also earned three continuing education unit (CEU) credits for professional development in their fields, including the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) certifications.
For City of Alvin Director of Parks and Recreation Dan Kelinske, the information resonated deeply.
“As a city, we have to do things that put us in the best position to get reimbursed,” he said. “What I’ve come to realize is that we’ve put a lot of focus on efforts to get reimbursed for staff time during disasters, but not for expenditures or damages.”
During a declared emergency, Kelinske serves as the planning section chief in the city’s Incident Command System (ICS), or emergency response team. In addition to operating in a human services role during a disaster, it’s his department’s responsibility to mitigate damage to city buildings such as wastewater treatment plants, water wells, backup generators, and other critical infrastructure. Recovery planning is crucial because it takes time and resources, including personnel.
“I can do things now that I learned in the workshop that will put us in a better position to recover some funds and avoid getting de-obligated,” said Kelinske.