Public Lab Research note

Notes and Reflections from Hurricane Preparedness Discussion/Dinner

by stevie , mimibell | September 20, 2017 16:51 20 Sep 16:51 | #14921 | #14921

Monday, Water Works hosted Hurricane Preparedness Discussion and Dinner event in partnership with Public Lab. The event was facilitated by Sebastian Rey and was hosted at The Warehouse in New Orleans. The goal of the event was to identify opportunities for collaboration between organizations representing community interests throughout the Gulf Coast on hurricane preparedness.

Who was there?

We maxed out capacity for the event with 33 attendees including participants from Orleans Parish (specifically the Lower 9th Ward), St. Bernard Parish, Jefferson Parish, Plaquemines Parish, we also noted that we were hearing from people in St. Tammany Parish who were hoping to follow up.

Those who came represented affiliations with LGBT constituents and groups, the faith based community, community groups (NGOs) primarily environmental, food, the arts, those who work with students - high school and college, small business, and local government. (See the notes doc for a full list of participants)

What was explored:

In our introductions Sebastian facilitated participants to identify our main concerns related to the issues. Overall the trends in responses included: those who are marginalized or disenfranchised, general preparedness, evacuation, recovery, infrastructure, gulf coast collaboration. (See the notes document for full list of concerns)

We then heard from General Russel Honore with a broad overview on the state of preparedness which emphasized the power of social media, not waiting to hear from the government on evacuation, those who were most affected by Katrina, risks we face outside of hurricanes, and a discussion on a campaign to “leave no one behind.”

Following this overview we had a brainstorm about vulnerable population consideration. The group brainstormed who was not represented in the room for this conversation. Those included: elderly, youth (Pre-K, K-12, high school teenage- college students, high school and college, those who may or may not be disconnected from a family unit, homeless youth, who would be unaccompanied in group housing), people with physical limitations, single women, elderly, non-english speakers, renters, low income, people who live in public housing, and people with PTSD.

image description

The group was then led through a discussion of exploring where we go from here. How do we get people from these communities to the table as part of forward movement and the decision making process. Some of the topics explored included meeting people where they are or where they go instead of asking them to come to things like workshops, reaching further into faith based communities for outreach and collaboration, and exploring the city’s existing support infrastructure. (Notes on that discussion can be found in the doc.)

Wrap up

To conclude the event, the group did a round-robin activity where participants each identified their feelings coming out of this conversation.

Responses included: interested, short (we need more time!), hopeful, overwhelmed, overwhelmed, signed in, determined, skeptical, pensive, grateful, hopeful, hopeful, encouraged, full (in mind and thought), excited, encouraged, anxious, wondering, pensive, impatient, curious, cautious, encouraged, thoughtful, and grateful.


Some participants also provided some reflections after the discussion about the event. Those included:

  • We needed more time and/or a smaller group (33 participants was great but it’s difficult to have everyone speak.)
  • The critique of using email/facebook to invite folks to things is something to consider -- if 40% of New Orleanians aren't using the internet, we'll need to find other ways to reach folks. The suggestion of laminated signs + knocking on neighbors' doors is a good one.
  • Community is powerful: everyone needs to check up on and know their neighbors. As Gen. Honoré said, "leave no one behind."

Does anyone have other reflections or follow ups? Please leave them in the comments below so we can integrate them!


This was helpful and it sounds like you had a great mix of people. I've been thinking a lot about that issue of common tech form. I'm curious if most people have cell phones (even if they do not have web capability). I know in other countries that has become an important means of notification. Of course the issue also becomes power once electricity fails. Takes me back to the time of emergency captains or today's block captains. :)

Reply to this comment...

Login to comment.