Neighborhood Presidents: A Charleston Best Practice
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The City of Charleston Neighborhood Councils, some 97 strong and growing, provide a system of communication and a substantial base for providing training and preparation for disaster readiness for city residents. City staff regularly meet with neighborhoods and provide basic training for the neighborhoods as they understand that there is a period of time when the city and its citizens must be able to operate and function without outside help. Neighborhoods are encouraged to send representatives for CERT Training from the Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division. CERT trained volunteers are prepared to be first responders in their neighborhoods. These volunteers and other neighborhood members offer a front line response for the individual neighborhoods in the City.
Neighborhoods are also trained to go to their neighborhood fire stations in a disaster if normal means of communications are down. The repeater system found at each station will enable city officials to communicate with neighborhood leadership and relay vital information to them. Neighborhood residents are also trained that if there is an evacuation, the City of Charleston website will be their source for critical information if they are out of the area. Neighborhood associations are also encouraged to send a list of residents with special needs to the City so that it can forwarded to the County Emergency Preparedness officials and use it to check on residents in case of natural disasters.
Started in 1977, the purpose of the Neighborhood Services Office is to maintain and improve communication, understanding, and cooperation between the neighborhoods of the City of Charleston and its officials; to provide for the institution and operation of an officially recognized process for citizen participation in the City's governmental decision-making procedures; to encourage the volunteer leadership of neighborhoods in the initiation of self-help action, and to provide assistance to neighborhoods and citizens seeking access to municipal government, its services, and its officials.
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