Ensuring Equitable Recovery— How to Support Diverse Communities with Alicia Johnson and Dave Reid
“If you’re a local leader, you’re knee-deep in it, moving at the speed that the community wants you to move, in the direction that they’re willing to go. That’s the basis of a successful recovery.” —Alicia Johnson
“We have to learn and be able to educate our communities around … the why behind what rebuild looks like.” —Dave Reid
Disasters can exacerbate pre-existing disparities, disproportionately affecting low-income individuals, people of color, and those with limited access to resources. Therefore, in order to ensure equity, recovery efforts should champion equal access to relief, resources, and support. By doing so, communities can rebuild in a fair and sustainable manner. After all, a society is only as strong as its most vulnerable members.
In this episode, Jennifer interviews Alicia Johnson, the CEO of Two Lynchpin Road, and Dave Reid, the Director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the County of Santa Cruz. Alicia and Dave have worked together on various projects related to emergency planning and community organizations in Santa Cruz County. Their shared experience fired their passion for issues of equity and serving diverse communities in disaster recovery.
Listen in as Alicia and Dave talk about the challenges of ensuring an equitable recovery, the difficulties of navigating FEMA assistance and the denial process, the importance of long-term recovery groups and disaster case management, post-disaster housing options, workforce development, as well as lessons that can be applied to the recovery efforts in Maui from recent flooding.
- 05:49 Disaster Management and Equity
- 08:29 Wildfire Impacts on Varying Socioeconomic Statuses
- 17:53 Rebuilding Trust After Disasters
- 24:56 Finding Contractors Who Match The Community
- 33:09 The Importance of Metabolizing Trauma
- 44:39 Post-Disaster Housing Solutions
- 57:36 Disaster Response and Community Involvement
Equity is the cornerstone of effective disaster recovery. Join @JenGrayThompson, @UrbanAreaAlicia, and Dave Reid as they dive deep into disaster equity and navigating assistance for marginalized communities. #Recover #Rebuild #Reimagine #NorthBay #podcast #wildfire #DisasterRecovery #DisasterRecovery #AfterTheFire #Season5 #HowToDisaster #disasterequity #emergencymanagement #longtermrecovery #FEMAassistance
05:13 “Government is best when we are acting in the best interest of the community and talking directly to the community.” –Dave Reid
07:57 “Instead of turning it into a blanket term that can mean many things that is somehow politicized, one of the most important things you can do in disaster is figure out how to give everybody an equitable chance to actually recover and rebuild.” —Jennifer Gray Thompson
12:52 “How we reach all of those individuals is dependent on the community that you’re serving. Those approaches are very different depending on where you live, and what has happened to that community at that time.” —Alicia Johnson
22:58 “It’s always easier to navigate a denial or the confusion of the process in person. And so the first line is getting you to be able to talk to a real person, rather than be on a phone or be on the internet.” —Dave Reid
26:12 “Even if they’re well educated and have an assumption that the government is going to help them, they’re still going to be frustrated with the process, coupled that with the inequities that already exist in our communities across the board.” —Alicia Johnson
30:08 “One of the things that’s important relationally is that your long-term recovery group structure; that disaster case management folks have a good strong fiscal agent associated with them.” —Dave Reid
31:36 “There’s a holistic relationship that you want to have in your long-term recovery group with the financial side.” —Dave Reid
35:15 “Continuum is critical to long-term recovery. Keeping that conversation going throughout the long tail is really important.” —Alicia Johnson
44:12 “Denial does not mean the process is over. Just have to keep at it.” –Alicia Johnson
48:54 “There’s a lot of opportunity, but the goal of getting housing there as quickly as possible… to allow individuals and families, to build a life again.” —Alicia Johnson
53:07 “We have to learn and be able to educate our communities around … the why behind what rebuild looks like.” —Dave Reid
57:54 “If you’re a local leader, you’re knee deep in it, moving at the speed that the community wants you to move, in the direction that they’re willing to go. That’s the basis of a successful recovery.” —Alicia Johnson
01:01:06 “It’s not the responsibility of government to do it once. We need to do it multiple times in support of recovery, on lots of levels.” —Dave Reid
Alicia Johnson is a distinguished professional with two decades of expertise in the fields of emergency preparedness, management, and disaster response. Throughout her career, Alicia has navigated a wide spectrum of crises, ranging from forest fires and chemical spills to active shooter incidents and data breaches. Her journey began in the realm of emergency services in Colorado and Utah, ultimately leading her to serve as the Resilience and Recovery Manager at San Francisco Emergency Management, followed by her role as the Director of Emergency Management at UC Berkeley.
One of her most notable achievements is the establishment of SF72, a groundbreaking program that delivers real-time critical information during special events and emergencies. Alicia’s impressive client portfolio includes entities such as Off the Grid SF, the State of California, the State of Oregon, the City of San Jose, the City of Piedmont, Mendocino County, and Santa Cruz County, among others. Her exceptional contributions have not gone unnoticed, as the Obama White House has acknowledged and celebrated her outstanding work in the field of emergency preparedness.
As the CEO of Two Lynchpin Road, Alicia continues to lead and inspire in the realm of disaster response and resilience.
- Website: https://twolynchpinroad.com/
- X: https://twitter.com/UrbanAreaAlicia
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aliciadjohnson
With over 20 years of experience in emergency preparedness, management, and disaster response, Dave Reid is a seasoned professional. He has held key roles, including Resilience and Recovery Manager at San Francisco Emergency Management and Director of Emergency Management at UC Berkeley. Dave’s notable achievements include the creation of SF72, a real-time information program for special events and emergencies. His extensive client base encompasses entities like the State of California, the City of San Jose, and Off the Grid SF. Dave’s remarkable contributions have earned recognition from the Obama White House, solidifying her reputation as a leader in the field.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Welcome once again to the How To Disaster Podcast where we help you recover, rebuild and reimagine. My name is Jennifer Grey Thompson, and I am the CEO of After The Fire USA, a nonprofit that helps communities navigate megafires.
Today’s guests, yes, that’s right, two guests are coming on. Today’s guests are here to talk about how to do equity in emergency management. Equity, sustainability, these are all things, terms that are tossed around in every industry. But I always like to talk about, how do we actually do it? What does it look like? And how does it change according to the community that you’re serving?
One of the things that’s exciting about having Alicia Johnson and Dave Reid on is that they’re here to talk about their experiences in Santa Cruz in particular. So Dave Reid is the Director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the County of Santa Cruz. And Alicia Johnson is a Private Contractor with Two Linchpin Road. She works closely with Dave on things that are going on in Santa Cruz, particularly related to the floods last year.
Last year, Santa Cruz had massive, unprecedented flooding. And this is a county that’s actually experienced a lot of different disasters. They’re incredibly resilient, but it’s interesting to see how they’re at the intersection of really having a lot of extra challenges around disaster. It’s one of the most seismically fragile in many ways, places in the state of California. And the other thing is that it has the steepest mountains in the state as well. They had a major mega fire in 2020, and that’s how I came to meet Dave. Anytime there’s a mega fire, that’s where we go. And in 2020 in the summer, they had a Lightning Complex Fire. A complex fire means that they had many fires that came together to form one very large fire incident. In the case of Santa Cruz, they were particularly vulnerable because fire really loves an uphill climb. So Dave has been on the ground dealing with that, dealing with the recovery and the rebuild. The other thing about Santa Cruz is that they have everything from very high end, wealthy homes, but they also go all the way to off grid up at Last Chance. And so the challenges are, they take a lot of talent to actually do and what Santa Cruz looks like, yeah, what equity looks like in Santa Cruz is not the same as everyplace else.
I really wanted them to come on, and to talk to you about some of those challenges, some of the stages of recovery. And one of the things we’re going to do is we’re also going to talk about Maui, as we’re doing this. And to talk about, are there lessons learned in Santa Cruz that we can actually apply to Maui? Or that the people of Maui could listen to this podcast and they might be able to take some of the lessons learned. I know, we’re going out there soon. I’m sure by the time that this airs, we will already have been there or we will currently be there. Welcome once again to The How to disaster podcast. I’d like to start today by having both Dave and Alicia introduce themselves.
Alicia, let’s start with you.
Alicia Johnson: Sure. My name is Alicia Johnson. I’m the CEO of Two Linchpin Road with more than 20 years of on scene Emergency Management disaster experience throughout the Western United States. Wildfires are definitely my favorite hazard to respond to, and I’ve worked with Dave on and off on various projects related to welfare planning and community organisations.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Great, thank you. And then Dave, do you mind introducing yourself?
Dave Reid: Sure. My name is Dave Reid. I’m the Director of the Office of Response Recovery and Resilience at the County of Santa Cruz. Our office was created just after our 2020 CCU fire to support the community in all aspects of disaster response preparedness resilience.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: So the CCU Lightning Complex Fire in 2020 was part of the worst wildfire season on record for the state of California, the state of Oregon, and I believe in the state of Washington. Why do you think that you were chosen for this really challenging role? Because in Santa Cruz, this was a very complex, doesn’t mean difficult, it means that it was many fires that merged into one fire, in this case lightning, not utility costs. So talk to us about how you came to be in this position.
Dave Reid: Sure. I spent the last 8 years working in an elected officials office on land use and environmental policy, and I have a background in climate change related issues and science. And I think one of the things that was clear is that recovery is complex, has lots of layers to it, and it can be very politica, and you have to be comfortable communicating with the public. You have to be willing to sit and talk through tough things with the community. And when you’re working in an elected officials office, a lot of what you do is engage with the public and community about what is frustrating them or what is the issue. So I came with that lens of really being community and constituent focused. And I think the government is best when we are acting in the best interest of the community and talking directly to the community.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I totally agree. Government is an art. Most people don’t understand what an art form is because every time you operate inside of government, you have to know that every single thing that you write down is subject to PRA requests, every person that you talk to that you are carrying the full weight of the government behind you. So they’re not just thinking, oh, I’m talking to Dave Reid. That cool guy in the county. I’m like, I’m talking to the County of Santa Cruz. So it’s an art form. It’s challenging. And so Alicia, what brought you into this space of disaster?
Alicia Johnson: Yeah. I started in emergency management in 2004, right out of college. And I got involved quite by accident. There was an ad in the newspaper which tells you how long ago this was and filled out an application to become a public information officer. I spent a number of years working with a chemical stockpile emergency preparedness program all throughout the United States at various sites, seven sites across the US, and really started to delve into what it looked like to help prepare community for what could be something very hazardous, and then delve into the all hazards component of that using the techniques and tools that we developed across this nationwide program to build out all hazards preparedness in different communities across the US. And then eventually, I made my way farther west, from Colorado to Utah, and then on to California, and spent a number of years working with the city of San Francisco on resilience and building community resilience in the neighborhoods. And then moved up to Sonoma, and was here in 2017 during the Sonoma County fires, and got a chance to work with the city of Santa Rosa, and really helped build their recovery capacity as they started to delve into that long tail of what wildfire recovery looks like. So it’s definitely been quite a ride.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: And what a great team in Santa Rosa too, I just have to say, for most people you’re like, I have no idea who those people are. But I would just like to say like a David Gouin. He’s now the City Manager. I’m a Sonoma County person too. They just had so many awesome people that I really draw upon them to this day to figure out lessons for the future. So I love that you were part of that effort because there’s so many. There’s just so many people when I was starting to help in Paradise that I would actually draw from people in the city of Santa Rosa, in particular, from their disaster response. And so that’s a great experience. So today, we’re really here, and we’re going to talk about a lot of things, but we’re really gonna focus on what equity looks like in disaster management. And one of the things that I’m very passionate about is showing people how to actually do equity or what does that mean instead of turning it into like a blanket term that can mean many, many things where that is somehow politicized. One of the most important things you can do in a disaster is figure out how to give everybody an equitable chance to actually recover and rebuild. Let’s talk about what that has meant. In 2020, Dave, I’m going to start with you. Because if you could explain for the audience, the diversity and equity, I don’t mean it like that, but the diversity of actual communities that you needed to serve and to make sure that they could recover that 2020 CCU Lightning Complex Fire was a puzzle.
Dave Reid: Yeah. Our fire burned a little over 80,000 acres in our county and our neighboring County, San Mateo County, and it burned through a number of rural communities. Really small little rural neighborhoods that had very different histories to their development pattern, resources available to them. So there were some very affluent landowners that had big parcels, big properties, big homes. And then there are folks that aged in place from the 70’s. They moved up there in the 70’s, and they lived in a small mountain cabin that they had amended and adjusted, adapted over time. And all of those folks had different financial situations. Some of them, again, had been there for decades. They were maybe land rich, but resource poor in terms of their cash flow and ability. They were likely underinsured. And then we had lots of folks that were unseen in the rental market. There are people who own five acres and they let somebody pull a trailer up to the corner of the property and live on the land in a low footprint environment, but they’re off the radar. They’ve got a PO box, they’re not seen, known to the county. That was both a rental income for those property owners maybe, but a place that those residents could live cheaply in a very expensive environment. So just all through the spectrum of community members in terms of their income status, their home ownership versus renter status.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: But in addition to that, you also had an off grid community. A community that had been at odds with the county for decades and that Last Chance, and they were very self-reliant. It didn’t make them any less self-reliant in their rebuilding, but really in the effort to bring them back into compliance, or that there are significant challenges that I imagine are ongoing. Last Chance is actually located at the top of a mountain. I don’t know the proper term for where they’re located.
Dave Reid: They’re in a kind of coastal zone. They’re on a ridge line adjacent to a very athletic community called Bonnie Doon.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: And it’s very beautiful up there, but it takes about an hour and a half to go up a road. That’s not really a road that my workers comp halfway up. But it was stunning. But it’s definitely one of those places where they, but it’s by intention that it’s not easy to get to. Then the challenge becomes, how do you actually serve everyone from Last Chance to Bonnie Doon which is much wealthier. Alicia, when you came into the work on the 2020 fires, did you work on any of these issues with equity with Dave? Or what is your take on that?
Alicia Johnson: One of the most memorable moments for me in terms of equity in Sonoma and the 2020 fires was setting up the long term recovery center. And in Sonoma, that particular fire hit again. The same type of equity concerns that presented in Santa Cruz also presented in 2017 in Sonoma. When we were there and set up the long term recovery center, the one thing that really shocked me was, I walked in one morning, the very first morning was set up. I walked in, there was a uniformed highway patrol at the door, white female walking in and I was like, this is a little strange. I turned to look to the street and saw, very clearly, a migrant workers vehicle parked across the street with individuals who were talking. Hard to tell if they were going to get out of their vehicle or not. And I realized, it kind of hit me like a load of bricks like, oh, they’re not coming in because there’s a uniformed individual here that they will not cross even if they have a green card. They’re not going to cross because they’re too concerned about their status. And by the time I had spoken to the person who was running the long term recovery center to remove that security guard, put them in plain clothes, do something else other than what was actually happening, those individuals had left. And we ended up having to figure out another way to reach that community. And it’s the same thing that’s happening in Last Chance versus Bonnie Doon, or between Last Chance and Bonnie Doon. They’re not competing against each other, but how do we reach all of those individuals given where they are in the community. That’s dependent on the community that you’re serving. It’s what’s right in front of you, and trying to develop the most equitable approach. Those approaches are very different depending on where you live, and what has happened to that community at that time.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think that one of the most important lessons about disaster generally is we can take all of our skills, we can walk into a community. But if we don’t listen, and if we don’t figure out what it is that they need, then we’re not going to be as much help as we would like to be. I’m also a Sonoma person.When I worked for an elected official and we had our fires, it gave me a lot of access that I would have never had. I learned a lot of lessons that I would have never learned otherwise, and I’m grateful for that because I feel like all of those lessons are what I take into my work ever since then. But we also made mistakes here, and some of them are, for sure, having a uniformed person at the opening of not just the assistance centers, but also at the shelters. And we did not have anything in place to do any kind of translation. So the county actually had to pull from people who happen to be Spanish speakers and writers at the county in order to really push stuff out in Spanish. And it tended to lag like, I had to go and find a translator to actually do the CalFire daily briefing alongside. But I was like, how is this ad hoc? Like, why would we have 27% Latin X population here and so how are we doing? How did that happen? And even though we went through three more mega fires, it really wasn’t until we were partway through COVID that the country really, which we also had the Glass Fire during COVID that they had to do it differently. And we actually had asked the community specifically like, okay, well, how do we reach people in a way that has trust? Because it’s not enough at the outside of the shelter to put a sign saying ICE won’t be here. You actually have to say it on the radio because people have to make the decision to get all the way to the shelter in order to hear that they will not be deported for that. And that’s you’re missing out. You’re missing a stage here.
How can we do it in a way that maybe you don’t listen to the radio in Sonoma County, but they do. And then we had people who also didn’t speak Spanish but spoke indigenous languages of Mexico and Latin, Latin American in general. So then how did we get, luckily, we have a radio station here called KBBF. They were very good at that. We give them a lot of grants, but it was often frustrating. And even a county who’s been through it a lot and has done a lot of work, we still got a lot of stuff wrong, but I feel very confident now that it’s much much better, but that the CHP is a perfect example. They won’t go in. We had to form a fund in order to replace wages for people who would never be eligible for any kind of FEMA. So let’s go ahead and dive into FEMA. Dave, in your experience, when you’re looking at the issue of equity and then your lived experience, how do you match that with FEMA? Or what challenges did you see, especially in that first year, that span between the setup the LTRG tends to take a minute, the disaster case management takes minute, what did you see?
Dave Reid: I think there’s a two tiered piece to it. FEMA individual assistance and the SBA loan program are critical first step resources for the community. FEMA comes in right off the bat and gets people to sign up. One of the challenges, however, is that fire recovery takes a while to get started. You’ve got a debris removal process that may take 6, 9, 12 months. For us, it was close to 12 months before all the debris between phase one removal and phase two removal was done. And then when you have a disaster, we did in our rural community. Rebuilding is complex and expensive. And so for some folks, it’s hard to know what you need in those first weeks and months. When you’re talking with FEMA or SBA, it may take years, literally, until you’re like, oh, gosh, my insurance gap between what I have and what I need is $250,000. Or it’s $200,000, and I only asked for a certain amount from SBA. And then you have to go through this process. So I think it’s really, it’s educating people post fire around that long arc as Alicia said, the long tail of recovery. But then also in a flooding disaster, it’s different. It’s much faster. You need resources quickly. And FEMA, depending on your language of preference, whether you have a documented child and you’re undocumented, you’re still eligible. But it’s a hard navigation road to navigate. And it takes time and denials. That denial in a flooding event is even more acute and important when you don’t have the luxury of time, when you want to get all of the wet stuff out of a home and not have it become a biohazard.
Alicia Johnson: This ties back exactly what we were saying before. There’s a really good concept called Speed of Trust. And the idea that you build accordingly, it’s one thing that is used in facilitation, but it’s really related to how we use it in terms of community preparedness and public information. And Jennifer, what we were talking about before with Sonoma County and long term recovery centers, and how important it is to get initial resources to you as quickly as possible. And then Dave, that whole idea that we spend the rest of our long tail, 5 years, 10 years, 25 years, cycling through that Speed of Trust, we created trust, and then we broke trust. Then we created it again, and then we broke it because that’s how the cycle with FEMA works. It’s so slow. It never is well timed enough. I always feel like there’s a certain level of friction. None of it is good between what’s happening in the local community and what needs to happen with people who are over-insured or have a gap where they want to rebuild in their timing and actual capacity to bring those dollars into the community.
Not just for individual assistance, but also at the infrastructure level too. We have to make sure that communities are strong enough, more resilient enough to keep people in the community itself if they can’t keep you there. And they have brain drain essentially where you lose all that traction that you initially built, and that takes even longer to regain the capacity and the trust. It was interesting. I’m sure, Jennifer, you noticed this in 2017. When you’re here, my family will stay here. We lived in Sonoma proper, and so our house was not damaged. But you saw a huge exodus of people who either didn’t want to rebuild, the memory was too raw, couldn’t afford to rebuild all those elements. And now, you’re starting to see people come back in. They’re building something new on that property, or they’ve bought a new home, or something like that. And emergency management is having now to rebuild that connection with the community about how important preparedness is, and what preparedness looks like. So I think the cycle of it is really interesting and it fits in so well with what we’re talking about in terms of delaying that capacity and rebuilding it, and then bouncing back and forth between, I trust you, and I know you’re doing the right thing. I don’t trust you at all, and I’m scared for what’s going to happen next.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Okay, there’s a lot. So much to unpack there. I think that this is actually what you were just talking about. It’s a perfect sort of segue into just talking about the process of denials, because sales are a huge point of equity. And if somebody has institutional knowledge and institutional trust and believes it’s there for them, then they are much more likely to navigate it to appeal to go back to make sure that they get what it is that they need. But even people who have really high institutional knowledge become intensely frustrated by the process. People with low institutional knowledge, low interaction have some fear and distrust, especially if they’re in a document, whatever it is. Because if you have one person that’s documented in the house, you are eligible for some federal relief. But not everybody does. If each of you somehow address your experience with that denial process, I’m going to give everyone a highlight here. In Sonoma County, we’re about 97%, 95% rebuilt in five years. We just hit our six year mark. But in places like Paradise where there’s really low institutional knowledge, low government trust, which we see a lot in Mega fires in particular, they happen in a lot of places, or people go like eastern California to specifically not have big government, and then they interact with big government, and then they are denied, and then they walk away. They’re like, of course, the government’s not going to give me what I want. And they don’t understand at all. That’s just part of the process. So talk about each of your experiences there. I’ll start with Dave, and then go to Alicia.
Dave Reid: Sure. Thanks. I think for me, what I’ve learned through both the CZU fire in 2020, and then our dual disasters in 2023 is the first step, obviously, we’ve talked a lot about communication and communicating with the public, we need to be transparent. First, they need to sign up for FEMA individual assistance. A lot of people are like, well, why do I need to do that? Or what should I do? And if you don’t sign up and you miss the deadline, you’re out. So the first thing is to get them to sign up, then it’s to be super transparent that it is a complex process, and you will get 2, 3, 4 denials. So for me, the first step was really making sure FEMA stayed as long as I could possibly keep them here. I requested in our 2023 disasters that they keep their disaster resource recovery center open after the disaster all the way till almost July for a March disaster. And the reason being is that it’s always easier to navigate a denial or the confusion of the process in person. And so we had bilingual folks at those disaster recovery centers that FEMA was running. And that’s the first line is getting you to be able to talk to a real person rather than be on a phone or be on the internet, both of which may be challenging to access. Not everybody has access to the internet, not everybody has access to sit and hold for an indefinite period of time. But if you can go on a Saturday or in the evening after work and visit somebody and talk to them in person, that is critically important.
The next step for me is really the long term recovery group. And Alicia talked a little bit about that in Sonoma County. And that’s building a relationship with a trusted voice, hopefully, and a case manager, a disaster case manager that can be tracking the denial, tracking the challenge and helping remove the barriers demystify the process. Because as we have talked about denial in FEMA land is really a synonym for request for more information. And if you got an email from the government that said, request for more information. You’d be like, oh, okay, I’ll give you more information. I must not have checked the right box. When you get an email from the government that says denial, especially when you don’t speak English as your first native tongue, you’re like, okay, I’m done. I’m out. I’ve just been denied. And so we have to demystify the language, and it’s easier to do that in person. And then also better to do that if you have somebody who’s an advocate for you. And we have to build those structures as a community. So for communities that are going through for the first time, it’s a both, you’ve need to move forward with the DRCs, getting people into those locations. But then you also have to think about that long tail, especially in a wildfire, and get that disaster case management system. That long term recovery group system, that advocacy system in place to help folks who are struggling through the process.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Alicia, do you want to add that?
Alicia Johnson: I mean, amen.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I would love for you to do that, or that manager because those are two things that are a total mystery until it happens to a community.
Alicia Johnson: I think that you can’t overstate it enough that the long term recovery group LTRG is critical. It doesn’t even matter the hazard. Santa Cruz County was hit with a wildfire and also a flood. Long term recovery is part of both of those things. So it can be after the fire, it could be after any other hazard. That idea that you have created again, that group of trusted agents, if you will, in the community who will help facilitate that process through the whole way, they’re not one offs, they’re not going to be there, just temporarily, make sure you get your first application. And then when you get the denial, say, oh, yeah, you’re supposed to do another one, and then leave. We want somebody to help facilitate that process the entire way and guide you through most individuals who are applying for individual assistance. They have not applied for it before, so they don’t know how the process works. They’re not comfortable or familiar with that. They don’t speak the language. Even if they’re well educated and have an assumption that the government is going to help them, they’re still going to be as, Jennifer, as you said, they’re still going to be frustrated with the process. Coupled that with the inequities that already exist in our communities across the board, and you’ve got huge problems when you don’t include those types of advocates really building in that process forward. Where do those advocates come from? I think that’s a really interesting question, that’s probably unique to every community that can be through various services and other ways. But it plays around with what that looks like. But I think it’s really key that you have to have them set up.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think it’s a huge vulnerability is the DCMs in the entire system because, I will say without mentioning the name of the company that in our case starting in 2020, not before, and I’m not talking about the disaster case managers before, but there was one company that was offered a contract that applied for essentially, they had been doing some COVID stuff for DCM and so they were like, well apply for wildfire. We’ll just do it. And they received it because they had a special category. Their DCM started to contact me and they were like panic eyes, trauma eyes. I don’t know how to do this. Or I don’t even speak Spanish. Or what do I do? And because they were getting the full weight of the emotion, it’s such a hard thing to do navigation which is different for fire than it is for housing. There’s nothing left in the muck. There’s a blue roof, you can’t blue tarp anything. And so where do you put people, and I had fully panicked, fully traumatized DCMs contacting me. I contacted the organization. I was like, not only are you dealing with a traumatized community, but you have not trained your people to do what they’re supposed to do.
And then the state of California gave them 16 more counties in response. I was just like, I’ve said my bit here. I don’t know what to say. But I can’t overemphasize enough that when you do look for a DCM contract as a lead, as a county leader in the state, you’ve got to find people who actually match the community in front of you that you want them to serve. Otherwise, you’re not serving them. You’re doing it for speed or efficiency, but the damage that’s done to the person trying to provide the service and who they’re providing it to, and this guy who’s like, I am a yoga teacher, but he was trying to find tiny homes for people that he was, and he was fully flipped out, and I just cannot overemphasize enough. As a point of equity, break it up if you have to. If there’s a community resource center, like La Luz, see if they can do DCM work for two years or something like that. Because they already know and they already have the trust, like you so well pointed out, Alicia, that’s so important in the community. That trust factor in equity just cannot be overstated. So now, Alicia, I’m gonna go back to you in the backup today. LTRG looked different in different places. Like the CampFire collaborative goes on to this day, they helped mentor the Dixie Fire collaborative, how were they going to do it? And how LTRG’s play out is different in Sonoma County. I knew a lot of the people on the LTRG, but it felt like they were trading case stories, and then we’re figuring out like who was going to take? Why wasn’t it as visible as it is, as it was for the CampFire or the Dixie Fire? And then Dave, you contracted that out to one of my favorite people, Valerie Brown. I like her so much. But can we talk about, I can actually start with either here. Who wants to go first? How is LTRG in your experience? As Long Term Recovery Group, we always have to be careful over and over again with acronyms because not everybody has them. Local Assistance Center, Disaster Assistance Center, Disaster Relief and so on. So let’s talk about LTRG and equity.
Dave Reid: Sure. So I think one of the things that’s important relationally is that your Long Term Recovery Group structure that disaster case management folks have a good strong fiscal agent associated with them. And that may not be the same organization. And so the reason behind that is you may get philanthropic donations, support dollars coming into your community, and you want those to go to a trusted source. Somebody that’s been in the community for a long time. For us, it’s the Santa Cruz County Community Foundation. An amazing woman, Susan True as their Executive Director. They collected and held the money. And then there’s a relationship between the Long Term Recovery Group disaster case managers and unmet needs. Right. So as we recognise that the federal government, the SBA, all those resources are not enough, or not timely, or not adaptable, that disaster case management structure, that Long Term Recovery Group structure and the unmet needs committee of that can help get some of those dollars out in the immediate aftermath. Gift cards, gas cards, clothing. But then, as the long tail of recovery continues, they hold some of that money ideally and can help people with water tanks, inspection requirements, technical studies that are required that are above and beyond what their recovery resources financially might be able to address. So there’s a holistic relationship that you want to have in your Long Term Recovery Group with the financial side.
And then I would also just say that for us in Santa Cruz County, I and OR3 had been in relationship with the Long Term Recovery Group. There are times when disaster case managers working with community members hit a wall with the process and they need the governmental structure because FEMA talks to the government more than they talk to the individual sometimes. We need to remove those barriers. So as an example in 2023 private road damage, FEMA individual assistance hasn’t historically loved private road damage. We figured out a way that each property owner along a private road could apply for a little bit of the cost to recover and rebuild that road damage. And FEMA works through a process to be able to give each of those property owners a little bit of the money towards the total repair. That takes a relationship with county and FEMA, and county and community. We have to be an intermediary and a liaison. So I think there’s those dual relationships that I just wanted to share with the community out here.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: By the way, you’re the first emergency or recovery person I’ve talked to who cracked that road code for individual assistance. And I saw it at a property in Davenport when I was there to speak. And they had built a little bridge. We lost 70 private bridges in Sonoma County alone. So I just want to say, good chunk. It’s a huge deal. Go ahead, Alicia.
Alicia Johnson: I think the unique element of community to the County to feed that continuum, it’s critical to long term recovery whether it’s inside or outside the LTRG is irrelevant. But keeping that conversation going throughout the long tail is really important. The one piece that I would add to what Dave has already said is that anytime you’re working with LTRG, I think those individuals need to be trained and have some mental stamina of what they’re going to be hearing. We talked about this at the After The Fire conference. On average, seven times as a survivor, you have to tell your story in order for it to start coming back into your body and not necessarily having the trauma of survival. And those long term recovery caseworkers are the people who are hearing that story over, and over, and over again from all of the individuals they’re working with. Because they’re not just working with one at a time, they’re working with many different individuals. And so they’re hearing the same or similar story over, and over, and over throughout a day or throughout a week. And being able to help them metabolize that, I think, is a really key part of keeping that long term recovery group going over time. And not just having those individuals tap out and say, okay, I’ve done it for a month, I can’t do it anymore. That’s a huge waste of capacity and training, an opportunity and trust that is so integral to actually building that long term capacity in the community.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I love to use the word metabolize until they’re gonna steal that because I’ve been thinking about this for years. And Alicia, tell us, I’m leading the witness, but what happens when they don’t metabolize? It’s not just that they won’t be there for a month, even people who stay in it for years. What happens to them?
Alicia Johnson: They burn out. They do exactly what first responders do when they don’t metabolize their own trauma. It affects their community, it affects their families, it affects their job. The whole thing. The crash and burn. And you see that over, and over, and over through the first response, through LTRG. And in some ways, those long term recovery individuals who are case managers, they’re first responders. Not necessarily to the incident, but their first responders realizing that–
Jennifer Gray Thompson: I think they’re gonna be first, second and third responders. I’ve been talking to third responders since we were formed six years ago yesterday. You do need those multiple levels of responders, and it’s so important that you actually help the trauma factor until you’ve undergone it. And even after you’ve undergone it, people are like, oh, yeah, that was six weeks ago. That happened, I should be fine today. Then six months later, well, I got through the first six months, I’m totally fine. And then a year later, I was not fine. And then two years later, boy, I really wasn’t fine for the first two years. I wasn’t anyway. I know a lot of people are like that. That helper piece of it. In order to maintain all the trust, we just absorbed so much trauma, but to be bicultural and bilingual means you’re just going to understand it so much better. Which really brings us to one of the things that we wanted to talk about today, which is some of the lessons that you see for Maui when we’re watching that. My phone absolutely blew up from people who were like, I want to go, I want to help. We all fire survivors and all leaders in this space start hyperventilating with desire to assist. And so Alicia, I’ll start with you and then go to Dave. Name one of the things that you see that is of great concern to you, or making sure that they get to where they need to be for the next stage of recovery.
Alicia Johnson: One of the things that’s really a great concern for me is the inequity that already existed in Lahaina and on Maui. As a tourist, when you go to Hawaii, you’re there for a week or two, you frequent the beaches, you go to the restaurants, you just enjoy paradise. When you live, there is a totally different situation. You have very, very wealthy people with a lot of property akin to Santa Cruz, and very, very unhealthy people with small properties or maybe large properties that they inherited from somebody and underinsured or not insured at all. And so there’s a lot of diversity in the way that that manifests. And that also means that the way that LTRG and FEMA individual assistance and all the other apparatus that we have to work with to help communities recover has to be incredibly nuanced, because the people that you’re working with are all individuals. They have very individual stories, they have very individual needs, and to treat them as if they’re Maui as a big group is I think folly on everyone’s part.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: And Dave, what are you seeing that’s your biggest concern?
Dave Reid: I think what’s interesting and concerning for me when looking at it from my vantage point is recognising that when you have a tourism based economy and you have a lot of service worker, community members living in an impacted disaster impacted community, those folks lost their home, there’s a high likelihood that it was a rental for them that they probably didn’t own it. We know from disasters that renters, it’s harder for renters to recover than homeowners. They have generally less resources available to them. The other thing is they have lost their job, their income stream, and it may not be coming back for years. So I think for me, that the lost voices are that service worker community, where are they going to find sustaining income for the years that it’s going to take to recover? All of the other service working community members on the island or the islands as an example, those jobs are taken. There’s not a dearth or surplus of extra service worker jobs that are available. So as governments in the state and federal government, there are resources for people for an acute period of time to help with lost wages. But fire takes so much longer. I worry not only about rebuilding their home or a place for them to live. But also, what is their income stream? And that’s just like a double impact that I hope there’s a path forward to support those community members with.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: There’s the secondary impact, which we also saw here in a tourist driven economy for Sonoma and Napa where people who are not directly impacted by the disaster were secondarily impacted by the loss of tourism and the loss of hospitality jobs. And like the number, we had such a high percentage of our workforce was hospitality, and we had such a low like Maui rental vacancy rate. So we had 1% when we had our fire. And so the big puzzle, I can’t even recall how many conversations that I sat in about what to do so that we didn’t lose our workforce because we were going to come back. But how do we retrain them because where are they going to live? And you want people to be able to stay home like most people they can fathom, or they can deal with losing their actual house, but it’s the loss of their home and their community that is just gutting for them. I know that Sonoma County is sharing some of the same lessons around tourism. But one of the things we’ve been trying to push out a lot is there’s an opportunity here to retrain hospitality workers to rebuild the community in which they will also live. Mendocino actually did a really good job of this. They actually retrained a lot of cannabis workers during the post disaster for them. And they got a lot of grants to do that. They ran one through us for about $275,000.
John Kennedy, this guy that used to be a supervisor doesn’t matter. But he did a good job, though. And they could build three, two, three bedroom, two bath houses for $80,000 using this sort of retraining model. So I’m hoping that they get some of those models, I hold a lot of those exact same concerns that you all are talking about. And it’s interesting, because in Maui, we’ve just never seen such high land values with such low incomes. And we don’t yet know what the rate of uninsurance is. We always know that under insurance is going to be massive, but the uninsurance and so many, because culturally, so many people, multi generations would live in one house. And so they are navigating fairly well, they’re making sure that they get some individual assistance, and they feel like they’re doing good things culturally. We met with their representative, their Congresswoman and then Senator, they are really pushing for it, they got cultural monitors for the EPA process, they’re going to get them for debris removal. Culturally, I’m very optimistic for them because they are so cohesive and protective as a group. I’m generalizing now after we just said that we shouldn’t, but I am a little more optimistic for them than I would be in another community. But how will that be deployed? How are they going to process through their trauma? I was super cranky for the month after it happened in particular, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the story of the little boy who’s found hugging his dog. I just couldn’t get over that. But it was that they lost so many people and their town, and there are a lot of people who lost a family member, or a friend who lost their home, who lost their job, who lost their town, who lost their business, like all in one person. That is really hard to fathom.
We’ve seen other towns like Paradise be leveled. Greenville be leveled. And there was a lot of loss of life in the Camp Fire too. But it’s sort of mind boggling, though, to think about the puzzle of Maui. So it’s just one of those things. And also their trauma. Their level of trauma, we’ve all seen a lot of trauma. It’s something a little bit more, and I’m watching to see how they go through that, and how we can be of service. But one piece of advice you’d love to see for them, Alicia, what would that be in their navigation of the next six months?
Alicia Johnson: Six months, you’re barely waking up from this. And as you pointed out, multiple traumas over and over. So when you look at the stress scale and they say, oh, you’re experiencing the death of a loved one. That’s the highest trauma you can have. Times that by five because you’ve experienced all these other things that are equally high that fall into that bracket. I think in six months, it’s respecting that the process of healing is just beginning. We talked about six months from now. Oh, I feel great versus two years where like, oh, well, I was barely hanging on by my fingertips during those first six months. So just respect the process. Let’s tap into what we said before. Denial does not mean the process is over. Just have to keep at it. And I think there’s some (inaudible) that’s required within those first six months, and then also some ability to pause, rest and just appreciate that you are continuing to put one foot in front of the other every day.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Okay, well can the government do in the first six months? What do you look over there? You’re looking at it because the county of Maui has a Mayor, which is interesting. But what do you think of from a government standpoint?
Dave Reid: I think the thing that I’ve been really interested in trying to figure out and haven’t done well yet, so I would love to see if mowing in the state of Hawaii can figure this out is to lean into the recovery workforce development concept. I know that for Santa Cruz County, we are trades deficient. We don’t have enough folks that can rebuild our homes, that just only increases the cost of construction. For me, I have a huge farm worker community that makes 10, $12 an hour at best. And I kept thinking, and I still want to find a way to bring them into the trades, give them a multi generational opportunity to have an income stream that is at a different order of magnitude. And so knowing that the resources to rebuild in Maui will be constrained, there may be an opportunity to really build that trade network through the community that’s been impacted. And what more powerful way to rebuild your community than to literally learn how to rebuild your community. And then you have that skill set that hopefully pays you more than that service worker salary may have paid you and it could be transformative to your family moving forward for generations to come. So I think exploring that, knowing how resource constrained they are, and we are as well, is an interesting place for the public and private sector to work together to build that workforce.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Really quickly. I’m gonna start with Dave and then go to Alicia, post disaster housing. It’s weird, it’s not the same in Mega Fire. In our case in Sonoma County, only about 168 people chose the FEMA temporary housing for the next 12, 18 months in the trailers. Do you have any ideas, Dave, for what they should be? I watch all their social media, so I’m watching what they’re doing. But I think also the more fires we have and the different places we’re going to have to think differently.
Dave Reid: It’s a challenge. Because right now, they’re taking up their income stream, their tourism based income stream hotel rooms throughout the islands to house those residents. Because they’re in a tropical environment, maybe there’s an interim easier thing that can exist–
Jennifer Gray Thompson: City that went in, but no children can be there. And then you can’t cook in the hotel rooms. So one of my favorite things to do is watch the local news in Hawaii. That’s what I always do. I watch their social media and local news. Is there an innovation in housing that you’ve seen, because I know that you live in innovative housing so I am tapping into my special Dave knowledge.
Dave Reid: I think prefabricated construction systems that can be shipped over nearly fully built and dropped on a flat pad is probably going to be a tool. My home is partially sips panel construction, partial straw bale construction. Those are green building techniques that have been around for centuries and decades, but prefabricated construction techniques that can be shipped over and stood up quickly are probably going to be the most effective way to get people into more stable housing than tents.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: What do you think Alicia, any new ideas or something? What are your thoughts around housing?
Alicia Johnson: Housing is a tricky thing. I completely agree with Dave. I think prefabrication is the way to go. I felt that way in 2017 when Coffee Park was destroyed and other parts of Sonoma County that the fastest way to get it to work would be prefab. And there are lots of choices. We’re not talking about little sheds that like to get put up. There’s lots of floor plans. I actually have looked at prefabricated houses and have a floor plan. There’s a lot of opportunity, and it goes beyond FEMA trailers which are not always safe in various environments. We know that you can’t put those in certain places because that’s not a safe place for you to live. nor would it be permitted. There are other communities that won’t allow those types of things to be in their city or county boundaries. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity. But the goal of getting housing there as quickly as possible, one, free up your hotel rooms for your income, right for your tourism dollars that are what you’re surviving on. And that allows the individual and the family, whether it’s nuclear or more, to stay in the area in their home, the place that they love, the place that they call home to build a life again. So housing is a huge part of that. It’s a cornerstone along with things like schooling, education and jobs that really helped create the solidity that you need to continue to have long term recovery.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: And then to make sure that you’re actually building the economy back at the same time that you’re building. I think what we’re all saying. Housing can feel a little crass even to be talking about the economy after a major disaster. What we can’t do is continue to try to build back places that also, they’re going to need an economy for people to live in them. This is a thing that Greenville is facing too. I met the people from Greenville. I think it’s Greenville after their fires, they flew out there because the entire town was lost. They rebuilt the town, and they did a really great job. But they didn’t rebuild a big economy next to it. And so 10 years later or 15, so they’re like, okay, this is great. We have this amazing rebuild. We did such a good job as a community, but we don’t have an economic driver here. And that’s a bit of a bummer. I’m actually hoping that there is some kind of opportunity for more there just to get them started, because we’re also helping their longer term RINA requirements. And so that’s one of the things, and it would be great to see something that could be paneled there, that could be manufactured there and shipped over. It’s just going to have to happen on some level. But I think I’m optimistic about the mass timber release. I don’t know if you stayed long enough to see Jonathan (inaudible) Institute. His presentation was, I am enamored with this. The houses that they built, Dave, they’re amazing. You should go to Greenville. It’s just so beautiful. I can’t even believe how beautiful it is. But you can use timber products that normally aren’t used for housing, but it’s the process. And it’s seismically sound and very fire resistant. Nothing is fireproof. But it’s one of the things that I’m really hoping for no matter what. Maui is going to be a very long and complicated recovery. Go ahead, Alicia.
Alicia Johnson: I think the one thing we didn’t mention was the permitting process at the city. That is a place where you could get hung up, or you could use the way. And so just being able to, as a government leader, understand that the red tape you’ve created over the past 100 years of your existence can either help to speed up that process if done effectively, or really put a barrier to a quick rebuild on anyway, on any form that you choose to do even if it’s to build back exactly as you were before. And so I think that that’s one piece that really needs to be considered. How do you address the permitting concerns and do it in a timely fashion?
Dave Reid: The other thing I would add to is that what we need to recognise in every community is understanding the environment with which rebuilding is occurring. So in Santa Cruz County, we are in a seismically diverse location. So community members don’t understand why I need to have all of this engineering to my foundation. Well, so that your house stays up in an earthquake. In Maui, it’s a very humid environment. So certain building materials will not last, and the last thing you want to do is build somebody home that 3, 4, 10 years from now rots away. So you have to think about alternative building systems or systems that are place specific and sustainable. And that’s why cinderblock, that’s why things like rostra may be more appropriate in those locations because it can stand the test of the weather more effectively than some other materials. So I think that we have to learn and be able to educate our communities around the place that we live in and the WHY behind what rebuilding looks like.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: It’s such a good point. I think that’s been one of the struggles for FEMA for the last six years. A lot of their systems are set up for wind, rain and flooding, and getting a certain number of people back to their homes after they’ve been marked. And they can be made livable. But in mega fires, there’s just nothing there. I’m not criticizing FEMA. They’ve been trying to serve the same way, and they’ve been doing some things a little bit different like in southern Oregon and the Alameda Fire in Talent which was destroyed. In Phoenix, both of those small working class towns were destroyed next to Ashland, which is more affluent. When they rebuilt it, they rebuilt the infrastructure under the ground which is something you see in fires. You don’t often see that same kind of damage at all in a wind or rain event than mega fires. They destroy the infrastructure, the water systems, all that stuff. So they replaced it, and then they made a commitment to leave it instead of doing what they would normally do because of a gift of public funds. They’d normally go in and they would rip it all out. And so what I’m hoping is that they take some of those lessons and do them on a more widespread basis for Maui because there is going to be relatively small, the fire actually has a relatively small footprint, but they’re going to have a huge amount of destruction. I’m hoping that they’ve figured that out as a matter of equity. And that also that they think about how to, I’m sure they’re thinking about this, but they have an opportunity even though it’s gonna be a little more expensive on the front end to create their housing stock for the next 100 years through complex perils. Nobody knows complex perils more than Santa Cruz County. Just saying.
Dave Reid: There’s a lot that’s going on here in our community. I think it’s important to recognise. I was talking with a state official who was over there for a number of weeks. The community, the elected officials, those in the leadership role of rebuilding are in a trauma state as well. We all from the outside, have these ideas, we want to support and share our experience. And they can only take in so much information right now. And right now, it’s one step in front of the other for everyone. Those in charge of the recovery process. It’s debris removal, it’s honoring those that are lost and not recovered in the debris. They will get to a place of thinking about all of these things. I don’t know where they are right now, but it will take time to be able to assimilate all of these great ideas, interests and lessons learned from communities around the country and around the world to support their recovery.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Yeah, I think they’re in that really weird, I’m watching every day, they’re in that really weird stage where the world has sort of moved on. The national media, the Global Media has all moved on. And that’s a relief. On one hand, huge relief. I was like, so it’s so personal and traumatic. No offense to Anderson Cooper, I hated that, like we all hated that. But you also need it in order to get all the donations and to get the help that you need. It’s worth all the eyes on you because it’s so terrible. But it’s also so invasive. I’m glad you said that it’s one of the things that’s been really important in our work because we always deploy.. We usually go earlier, but we waited. We’re not going until December now. We waited because there was such an influx, there was so much trauma, that it was really important that we don’t, I didn’t want to be part of the noise. Initially, it was really just too much noise, and I was afraid that the efforts would be for not. It would just be one more group of people there to try to help, but that sort of frantic desire. But you’re right, they can’t. But I’ve even had to train people who’ve worked for me, I’ve had to say, it doesn’t matter if you know the answer. They can’t hear it right now. So just hold back and just keep asking questions, and then we will figure out where they are. And then we’ll try to give them peer to peer support. But you can go in there with all the answers. They’re not gonna be able to hear it. You’re totally right. But they did replace their emergency manager with a really cool guy. So he had such high public trust. That social capital factor is just absolutely immense, though. So I’m pretty excited about that. Okay, well, I really enjoyed this. Thank you so much. Alicia, is there something that you wished I would have asked you or brought up that I didn’t?
Alicia Johnson: I think we covered most of it. I really feel that the timing of it is so incredibly important. Not just for Maui, but also in general, for every disaster. Listening first to where the community is, even if you’re a local leader, you’re there, you’re knee deep in it. Listening first, and then moving at the speed that the community wants you to move in the direction that you want to be that they’re willing to go. I think that’s the basis of a successful recovery.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Can ask your question there. Because I’m watching this play out right now, because it’s the community that was immediately most affected. You’re saying that we do not want to be open to tourism in Maui, but they opened on the eighth. They’re like, we are raw. It’s just too much. But then the people who have their small businesses, or the rest of their economy, or have those jobs like, we have to because there’s no federal relief, there’s no fun for them to actually come back and recover. So that tension, though, which is how, we had people coming to blows here in Sonoma County over that exact same issue. So can you quickly address it like that? You don’t have to have perfect data.
Alicia Johnson: You bring up a good point. But just because you’re listening to the communities doesn’t mean they’re all talking with one voice. That ability to say, okay, we hear you about being raw, and we totally agree. You are raw, we are raw. We feel it. Jennifer, you and I have been there Dave’s been there too. We know what that feels like. We also know that there is a need for dollars to come into a community that can’t be covered by the government, by the federal state or local governments. It’s not possible. And so you have to split the difference. Is it what the survivors want to hear even if they own a business? No, they don’t. They want time to recover. But there’s got to be a little bit of give and take, and what that looks like. And I think that’s the real key part of recovery is that we don’t all get our way every single moment of the recovery. I wish we did, but that’s not how capitalism works. Being able to open up the economy, open up tourism in Maui and or in other places and say, okay, we’re ready for business. Here’s what that’s going to look like. Here’s how we move through that. And then hopefully, using that to process the trauma that has happened for you over the last 6, 12, 18, 24 months, however long it takes, I think is a really key part of that. But you don’t open up or keep it closed without listening to the community first.
Dave Reid: I would add in addition to the key aspect of listening from a government standpoint. Repetition actually is something that I’ve learned through these disasters. You think in government, you do it once, maybe you do it twice. And you think I’ve done it, I’m done. I had a community meeting in February, and in May of 2021 after our August 2020 fire’s about what recovery and rebuilding was going to be looking like. And I thought, okay, great, we did it twice. Not realizing, I probably should have done it every quarter for three years because people come in at different stages. And it’s the same with advocacy. You’re gonna get three denials. We need to be there and repeat the same message to the federal government with each of those denials to support you as community members. So it’s not the responsibility of the government to do it once. We need to do it multiple times in support of recovery on lots of levels.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Actually, just as a side note. One of the first things that we were told in 2017 was we were going to have to go back to DC constantly in order to make sure that our community was well served. And we did that. I think that we did that. We started in January of 2018. And then I was there again, five or four weeks ago, like two weeks before the summit which was a little crazy. But you have to continuously make that heard and known. And a lot of people on the West Coast, you don’t think about the need to go do advocacy, or you think that there isn’t a space for years. I’m gonna have to invite you to go do that in DC. How do you get those appointments? Obviously, they know our organization, and they know that our game is tight. But we had to earn and learn all of that. And one of the things we do is we teach every other community that we come into contact with if they want aid, if they have somebody that they need or want, or we go as a coalition. But to teach advocacy is so important as a matter of equity to especially for all the communities that have low capacity. Plumas County only has 15,000 people. That’s a hard capacity issue. There’s a tough man, Kevin Goss, Supervisor Goss who you probably met at the summit. I love him. But at one point in the first six months of their recovery, he lost his business. He was a Chair of the Board of Supervisors, the interim CEO, the interim auditor controller all at once. That’s a matter of equity too. Was there anything else that I didn’t cover that you wish that I had before we call it day?
Dave Reid: I don’t think so.
Jennifer Gray Thompson: Well, thank you so much. This is like an opening conversation. We do drop all of your info in the links so if people want to find out more about you or contact you, then we provide all that information. They could also reach out to me and I’m happy to connect to you. Thank you so much. What I love the most about this work is all the people along the way. I often tell people, I’m a curator of super cool people. That’s my major job in this space is to bring as many of you together. I love the fact that you guys are working together on this, and that Alicia could also bring her experience from Sonoma County and disaster to Santa Cruz. So thank you for all the hard work that you do. This has been another episode of the How to disaster Podcast where we help you recover, rebuild and reimagine.