Is Crisis Cleanup a Good Fit?


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How/When to Start a New Incident

We will launch a Crisis Cleanup incident upon the request of any qualifying recovery organization. There are no size or disaster declaration requirements. However, in our experience, cleanup efforts of hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of work sites are most appropriate for Crisis Cleanup. Crisis Cleanup drastically improves coordination efficiency as the following factors are present:

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Large Geographic Area, Many Work Sites

Crisis Cleanup is most efficient when used to keep track of property damage across a large geographic area. When the damage is concentrated in a small area, it is easy for a single organization to keep track of the work orders without technological assistance. When the damage is widespread (e.g. after disasters like hurricanes, large fires, earthquakes, or widespread flooding), it is much more difficult for a single organization to have complete situational awareness.

In large disasters, decentralized work order management technology makes coordination, situational awareness, and communication seamless, while sidestepping many human limitations.

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Many Responding Organizations

Crisis Cleanup allows an unlimited number of organizations effortlessly coordinate decentralized efforts in real time. It is easy for three organizations to coordinate efforts among themselves using phone calls and emails. However, if 120 organizations coordinate efforts, it would require billions of phone calls, text messages, emails, etc. to coordinate efforts. In these situations, Crisis Cleanup provides exponentially increasing value by easily coordinating the efforts of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of volunteers.

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Property, Not Personal Information

For privacy reasons, Crisis Cleanup helps recovery organizations fix property (assessments, debris removal, muck-outs, rebuilding, etc). Crisis Cleanup may NOT be used for:

  • Case Management
  • Spontaneous Volunteer Management
  • Donations Management

Crisis Cleanup may not be used to store sensitive personal information such as SSNs, medical information, or dates of birth. See the Client Personal Data Collection Policy.

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Property Needs Assessment

A property needs assessment is necessary before a work order becomes actionable. Simple damage assessments do not give relief organizations enough information to deploy teams and resources.

Example: Two homes are burned to the ground. The damage assessment for Home A and Home B are identical: The home is a pile of ashes. However, Home A has insurance and a strong church, while Home B has none of those things. The property needs assessments of these two homes are very different.

Crisis Cleanup focuses primarily on needs assessments, but will accommodate preliminary damage assessment information in the future.

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Active Use by Field Workers

Field work powers the Crisis Cleanup database. Crisis Cleanup was designed to optimize efforts of team leaders and field workers. Although the system is a useful coordination and management tool, the life blood of Crisis Cleanup is the field worker. Crisis Cleanup assists workers to plan, prioritize, and execute property remediation activities.

As a result, each organization should share their organization username and password with team leaders and field workers, who should log into the system and update it.

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Early Grassroots Adoption

Because the system is driven by field work, grassroots adoption (versus top-down implementation) is ideal. When Crisis Cleanup is adopted by 2-1-1, other organizations naturally flock to the data; and Crisis Cleanup's bias for inclusion means almost everyone is welcome.

Experience has shown that waiting for top-down approval often takes too long. During the week or two required for approval relief organizations have already begun work and are less likely to transition to a new system. Top-down approval and adoption also introduces the risk of accidentally implying that a single organization is "in charge" of the incident, driving unnecessary wedges among recovery organizations.

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Collaborative Accountability

Crisis Cleanup is most likely to succeed in an environment of Collaborative Accountability, rather than Hierarchical Accountability. Hierarchical Accountability is when a boss tells you what to do, and you get in trouble for failure to obey your boss' orders.

In contrast, Collaborative Accountability is the relationship co-equal team members have with one another, which is the norm in disaster recovery. Each agency and organization is inter-dependent and co-equal with the others. Nobody is "the boss." Intuitively, we all know this. After all, the Baptists don't report to the Mormons, the Salvation Army doesn't report to the American Red Cross, and although the Sheriff's department can order a voluntary agency out of an area, they can't order them in. Each has a sovereign, but interdependent role. Crisis Cleanup acknowledges this reality.

In practical terms, this means that Crisis Cleanup is not useful for a top-down or ICS-based response.

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Clear Roles, Relationships, and Resources

Even though no single organization is in charge of Crisis Cleanup, the system works best in a mature, collaborative environment where each agency's role is clear and universally understood, strong inter-agency relationships exist, and each agency has the resources to perform its role. For example, without strong roles and relationships on a local level, one organization may get stuck with all of the follow-up, without the necessary resources to complete those tasks. Experience has shown that having at least one organization fill each of the following roles is important for a collaborative response:

  • Update: All participants should understand their role and responsibility to update the data. Remember the Crisis Cleanup C's when performing work: Call, Claim, Confirm, Check/Assess, Clean, Close Out.
  • Intake: Have at least one organization devoted to doing nothing but intake. Collaboration naturally occurs when organizations see Crisis Cleanup as a free source of data. Often Crisis Cleanup will provide a hotline (but not volunteers) for the public to call. Stationing a relief organization with access to Crisis Cleanup at a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) is also very effective.
  • Followup: The data has a shelf life of roughly 1-2 weeks before it becomes outdated (e.g. people self-remediate, or others help). Have at least one organization devoted to calling down the list to ensure the data is up-to-date.
  • Reporting: Everyone wants reports. Having an organization devoted to building and disseminating reports is useful.

Policy Effective: October 3, 2013. Last Updated: Jan 22, 2015: Added Roles, Relationships and Resources, minor editing. March 21, 2015: Revised Property, Not Personal Information; re-ordered document to improve readability. August 27, 2018: Identified common roles.

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