SERAA - the South East Resilience Action Area - is a community alliance based organization which arose in response to repeated problems keeping essential services going in the historically poor South of America. Most major cities and many towns have a SERAA center, usually a church or a community center, which does year round humanitarian assistance training, provisioning, and helps people interface with the SERAA Emergency Relief Network which helps people figure out where to go before a disaster strikes, and helps pair up individuals seeking an evacuation route with communities who have extra resources to shelter and feed people.
The SERAA model revolves around finding the essential goods and services you need to survive ahead of time, by preplanning where people will go to, and using a health-insurance like model to pay for supplies and maintenance. The resource provisioning and mapping is done in the same way at every scale - a SERAA map looks rather like a series of wagon wheels, with local hubs and spokes to outlying communities and sources of essential services like food or drinking water. Large wheels and small wheels have the same basic structure showing the same basic needs being met at a variety of levels. In the overlap of many such wheels, it's possible to find what's needed to survive quickly and easily. Disaster management software developed in the early days of SERAA has become a common way of organizing even routine affairs in many municipalities, and the "language of disaster" spoken in the South with its system of templates and checklists is widely envied globally.
However, the Gulf Coast still takes an enormous pounding once in a while, and no amount of local resilience training takes the place of a full-fledged Federal humanitarian response to crisis. SERAA assists, but does not replace, groups like FEMA.
As communities which had been directly affected by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina began to realize the limits of the current approaches to keeping things going after disasters, a new emphasis on local solutions and self-help arose. Historically the South East of America had often played host to innovative communities that were interested in going back to nature and groups like The Farm had proven as early as 1971 that the South was hospitable to new social movements. Low land prices, high agricultural fertility and generally low costs of living also tended to move certain kinds of mobile populations into the south.
SERAA came into its own though the need to handle regular waves of climate refugees as Florida and the Gulf Coast were repeatedly pounded by increasingly severe weather in the Teens. The convertible community concept - rural areas which carried additional infrastructure and emergency housing capacity - became widely adopted, and many people in disaster-prone areas paid SERAA-affiliated organizations to maintain retreat areas where they could go in a crisis as a way to avoid reliance on the unpredictable FEMA response which tended to be better in some years than others depending on administrative and funding issues. Over time, this contributed to a sense of local self-sufficiency which took advantage of a long standing "those fools in Washington" feeling in south, and SERAA became something of a point of Southern Pride. The fact that the South could respond more effectively to natural disaster than most other areas of the US was not lost on the mayors of cities like Miami and New Orleans, and the export of resilience thinking and disaster relief expertise became a prominent gulf coast cultural and economic export.
SERAA response to ReDs Edit
SERAA has been instrumental in preparing remote ReDs Crisis Centers where the existing convertible community areas are being retrofitted with additional medical support systems to handle the anticipated waves of people who are no longer able to continue with their lives due to the lingering after-effects of ReDs.
Historical Resources Edit
- http://thefarm.org the mother of communes in America
- http://www.earthaven.org/ Asheville NC intentional community
- http://gen.ecovillage.org/ global ecovillage network
- http://www.appropedia.org/World_Help_Training_Center World Help Training Center in Macon, GA, originators of the convertible community concept
- http://www.jeffvail.net/2007/01/what-is-rhizome.html Jeff Vail, a local economy and resilience mapper
- http://files.howtolivewiki.com/six_ways_to_die/fragile%20plenty.pdf Six Ways To Die survival maps, an ancestor of the SERAA map.