Amy Williams, Amanda Devecka-Rinear, Elissa Campanella, and Jody Stewart, 2023. “Community organizing as critical component to planning for natural disasters: The New Jersey Organizing Project story”, Shore & Beach, 91(4)/92(1), 62-65.
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Community organizing as critical component to planning for natural disasters: The New Jersey Organizing Project story
Amy Williams(1),(2), Amanda Devecka-Rinear(2), Elissa Campanella(2), and Jody Stewart(2)
1) Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, 195 Cedar Bridge Road, Stafford Township, NJ 08050;
2) New Jersey Organizing Project, P.O. Box 1069, 525 E Bay Ave, Manahawkin, NJ 08050
For Superstorm Sandy, there was no guideline as to how to deal with insurance companies, starting to rebuild, or getting grants to move or stay. While many organizations are established to help with the immediate impacts of natural disasters, there is a gap in information on how to deal with the long-term effects of recovery and also how to prepare for future disasters. With these needs in mind, the New Jersey Organizing Project (NJOP) was initiated in 2014 to help build power within these affected communities to be able to participate in the decision-making process on aspects of the recovery program that ultimately affected their daily lives. NJOP is a grassroots, bipartisan, nonprofit organization that was founded on the premise that navigating myriad programs and complex rules of disaster recovery was exceedingly difficult for individuals. The organization facilitates communication and collaboration in order to build citizen capacity to coordinate a response to secure policy changes, to develop new programs, and advocate for improvements to existing ones in order to improve the recovery process. A key objective is to provide people with a space to receive dignity and respect by building power within the citizens and provide training to community members to participate in the decision-making processes that affect their daily lives. Over the past nine years, the organization has continued to respond to the current conditions in regards to health care, the opioid crisis, and resiliency planning for future storms in order to provide citizens a voice at the table in the decision-making process.