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A Strong Social Service Sector IncreasesResponsiveness

All observers noted that Boulder County is rich in civil society capacity, both formally organized non-profit organizations and non-formal citizen groups. There are a large number of groups, they are diverse in structure and function, and they are good at what they do. This is especially true of the direct service organizations that help individuals and families. Public and private agencies across the county came together to get people the help they needed, though it was impossible to determine how many people moved out of the area or were reluctant to come forward for assistance. Two concerns about this capacity were: a) the amount of time it took to set up a coordinated system, and b) the relative inflexibility of some of the traditional service providers. On the first point, there were Disaster Assistance Centers set up around the county within days of the start of the storm, yet the follow up case management system for long term recovery did not go into full operation for almost five months. On the second point, some responders found that some traditional service providers were constrained by cumbersome rules and procedures, and creative people found ways to use more informal systems to get done what was needed. Outside organizations increased the local response capacity. National organizations brought in their volunteers, systems, and sometimes equipment to multiply the capacity of local organizations. While there is always a problem of handling the convergence of a large number of organizations in a disaster area, local agencies handled the influx well and made good use of the resources offered. A greater culture of partnership and greater flexibility in policies and procedures would make collaboration with local agencies more effective and efficient.

PERC Reports