ITDRC and Merit Team Up to Help Michigan Communities

NGOs prepare for the next big one

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Last year the Detroit Free Press read “Detroiters are still wringing out their lives, two weeks after torrential downpours swamped roadways and homes.”

Heavy rains combined with high sea levels caught locals and the state in a vulnerable position.

However, flooding is nothing new for Michigan, a state that’s surrounded by water; and peace of mind is hard to come by after declaring a state of disaster four years in a row.

Last May, waters rose 1–2 feet higher than predicted, resulting in rescues where firefighters had to fight chest deep waters and rendering more than 3,000 structures damaged in Wayne County.

Lee Gavin, of Dearborn Heights emergency management, believes their citizens are “resilient people” who have been through it before — but these events place an undue burden on families and businesses alike.

Nonprofits Merit Network and Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) are working together to improve the outcome for communities impacted by the hazardous floods Michigan has routinely faced.

“Michigan’s educational and non-profit community faces the possibility of disasters every day, harsh weather events and cyber attacks are a daily reality and our members often lack the resources for an effective response” said David Dennis of Merit.

ITDRC and Merit believe the best answer to disaster response is by working in tandem towards preparedness, by identifying resources and pre-positioning assets so they can be quickly deployed after an event.

Before joining together, Merit created a Community Assistance Pact, known as MCAP, to help rally resources within Michigan before disaster arises.

“Making these community connections in advance provides some peace-of-mind to the IT leaders within our state,” said Dennis of Merit.

ITDRC is also no stranger to disasters since stepping into response full time in 2009.

With a focus on mass care and community recovery, members of ITDRC’s cadre of 1,700 plus technical volunteers are prepared to deploy anywhere in the US within 24 hours of a request.

“This collaboration with ITDRC brings a variety of new, national-scale solutions and capabilities that our MCAP members appreciate, and will now incorporate into their own disaster response planning. This arrangement is an ideal fit, with a Research and Education Network like Merit fostering the local relationships, while ITDRC helps those members to leverage expert personnel and equipment from throughout the country” says Dennis of Merit.

Together these well equipped NGOs will focus on the staples inside Michigan communities, known as anchor institutions, assuring hospitals, libraries, and schools receive technical support to enable them to continue to serve their citizens.

“The difference in the outcome is often in the preparation” says Joe Hillis, ITDRC co-founder. “The wrong time to be exchanging business cards is in the middle of a disaster.”

While the organizations hope the people of Michigan won’t be wringing out their lives again this year, ITDRC and Merit stand ready to lend a hand.

America’s premier team of volunteer technology professionals — Connecting Communities in Crisis™

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