Together, Toyota and St. Bernard Project (SBP) will improve the way America prepares for, and responds to, disasters. SBP will expand the scope of its Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab, founded in 2013 to provide a comprehensive array of pre- and post-disaster resilience and recovery strategies, and Toyota will enhance SBPs ability to both respond to disasters and increase efficacy across the disaster recovery industry through financial and skill-based investments.
A three-year, five million dollar investment by Toyota will provide: 1) three years of full funding for SBPs 140-person, national AmeriCorps program, to cover SBPs existing AmeriCorps costs in New Orleans, New York and New Jersey, as well as other communities where SBP may serve in the next three years; 2) annual funding for SBPs New Orleans Hub of Innovation, where best practices are developed, documented, and shared; 3) annual funding for SBPs New York-based Hub of Influence in support of ongoing Sandy recovery operations; and 4) funding to support a fleet of vehicles for SBPs national disaster recovery efforts.
As part of its skill-based commitment, Toyota will support training of 140 AmeriCorps members each year in the Toyota Production System (TPS) philosophy. During their 10-month terms of service with SBP, AmeriCorps members will receive TPS training around identifying inefficiencies and problems, which in turn will enable them to determine and implement solutions. Once their terms are complete, individuals will carry this TPS approach to their future professional endeavors.
As part of its commitment, SBP will expand the scope of Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab. SBP will select 10 vulnerable communities each year for three years, and train small and mid-sized businesses, homeowners and municipalities within those communities to understand and mitigate risks. These communities have been identified based on a specific set of demographic and geographic criteria ranging from population size, home ownership rates, and median income, to the physical vulnerability of the community itself and the types of disasters it is prone to, including floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. The need for broader resilience training is underscored by the National Institute of Building Sciences research, which reveals that every dollar invested in resilience saves $4 after a disaster.
Additionally, The Corporation for Community and National Service (CNCS), which administers AmeriCorps, will partner to support SBPs post-disaster rebuilding training that will be available, at no cost, to grantees, including AmeriCorps programs, engaged in disaster recovery work. This training will result in increased consistency in data collection/sharing and a faster recovery in disaster-impacted communities.
Beginning in the summer of 2015, Toyotas commitment will fully fund SBPs AmeriCorp program over a three-year period, providing Toyota Production System (TPS) training to 140 AmeriCorps members each year. The trainings will take place 2-3 times per year, lasting approximately 1.5 hours per training.
SBP and its Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab (DRRL) will begin working in a select group of pilot communities to provide pre-disaster resilience training and in some cases post-disaster recovery assistance, in the summer of 2015. DRRL will work with the remainder of the 10 communities over the course of 2015, and will select a new set of 10 communities to engage in 2016, repeating the process in 2017.
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data, the number of billion dollar natural disasters has steadily increased over the past 30 years in the United States. At the same time, Americas systems for pre-disaster resilience and post-disaster recovery are not optimally efficient. Specifically, homeowners are often unprepared for disaster. Many are under-insured, own the incorrect type of insurance or none at all, and homes are not built or properly fortified to withstand local weather threats such as floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes, compounding the problem when one does strike.
There is a tremendous human toll to a delayed and unpredictable recovery: without a prompt, efficient and predictable path home, seniors golden years are tarnished, childrens formative years are tainted, and parents experience levels of stress that render them unable to be truly present for their families. As is the case with 65% of St. Bernard Projects New Orleans clients following Hurricane Katrina, disaster victims often fall prey to fraudulent contractors in their attempt to return home quickly, and may spend their hard-earned savings on a contractor who delivers shoddy, incomplete work at best; or at worst, the contractor disappears from the job completely. In many cases, disaster survivors are further burdened by rent payments on temporary housing, in addition to mortgage payments for their uninhabitable home. Sometimes, the toll of delay manifests in other ways, such as declining mental health, suicide, domestic violence and substance abuse problems increasing in the wake of disaster, according to The National Institutes of Health.
Additionally, a delay in recovery can devastate impacted communities economically as businesses close and jobs are lost. According to the Chamber of Commerce, 40% of businesses that close due to a disaster never reopen and 90% of small businesses shut down within two years of a disaster.