The Four Phases
Mitigation is "sustained activities and measures aimed at eliminating or reducing the long-term risk of property damage and loss of life from hazards and their effects". This phase includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening or reduce the effects of unavoidable hazards. It can occur before or after an emergency or disaster. Examples include: zoning and building codes, floodplain, buyouts, data analysis to determine where best to place shelters or temporary housing, and educating the public in ways to reduce loss and injury.
Mitigation can break the cycle of having to rebuild and rebuild again after every occurrence of floods or hurricanes. Attention to mitigation opportunities can make safer communities for all of us.
Preparedness involves establishing authority and responsibility for emergency actions and having the resources available to support them. This includes developing written response plans, maintaining facilities and equipment, installing warning systems, training of staff and equipping the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for operation during an emergency. A key element is developing plans that link the many aspects of a jurisdictions commitment to emergency management.
Response is the action taken to save lives and property. This may include warning, evacuating or sheltering the public, search and rescue, providing medical treatment, maintaining the law, assessing damage or requesting help from outside the jurisdiction if needed.
Recovery is the effort to restore the infrastructure and the social and economic life of a community back to normal after the disaster. Short term it includes bringing power, telephone etc., back into service and ensuring the social needs of individuals and the community are met. Long-term goals are restoring economic activity and rebuilding community facilities and housing.