AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Leaders across the panhandle are working to better learn what to do after unavoidable disaster strikes.
Healthcare workers, school district administrators, local government leaders, first responders and volunteers across the panhandle spent Wednesday in Amarillo for the annual Panhandle Regional Preparedness Conference, working on disaster recovery plans for our area.
Emergency response is easier to plan for, but recovery is different, since you can't know the severity of damage a disaster could bring until it happens.
"Primarily [we're] trying to find strategies that could be placed within jurisdictions so if you do have a disaster that you've already started something so the recovery will be a little more easier," said Emily Nolte, Regional Planner for the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission.
No one wants to be in a position where disaster recovery is necessary, and it's a big issue that is not a strong suit for many panhandle communities.
Attendees Wednesday looked at some recent examples - like last year's tornadoes, snow storms, and years of wildfires - to discuss what could have been done differently to make the recovery process go more smoothly for areas affected.
"A big focus was on debris management and how we can work with our local communities should you have a disaster, how can you presort the items that were damaged in your home to put them on curbside for cleanup," said Nolte. "That by itself can save a local jurisdiction a tremendous amount of money if it's presorted"
Private citizens also play a crucial role in the recovery process.
"People normally, on the response end of it, feel that they don't have a role because EMS, fire and law enforcement come in," said Nolte. "But on recovery, we have to have the citizens. They're the folks that are part of the recovery team to help determine what are the priorities to get that particular jurisdiction back."
Nolte hoped the hundreds of people who attended the conference learned the value of combining skill sets from groups across the panhandle to quickly bring communities back on their feet after emergency events occur.