Rural Assets for Emergency Preparedness and Response
As small, often tight-knit communities, rural areas have built-in strengths that help them in emergency
preparedness and response.
Strong Sense of Community
Community members and organizations collaborate to aid in response efforts. In rural areas, local businesses,
faith-based organizations, and veterans are common collaborators and volunteers. Rural communities often have a
strong willingness to support and care for one another.
Flood in Eastern Nebraska
After intense flooding forced the residents of North Bend, Nebraska, to evacuate, families living in higher
elevations not affected by the flooding opened their doors to evacuees. Others were instructed to go to the
local high school, then subsequently evacuated to Snyder, a neighboring small
town. There, they were welcomed with cots, blankets, and temporary shelter at a community ballroom.
Community efforts were crucial to recovery too. Neighbors helped one another, and volunteers arrived from
other Nebraska communities as well as neighboring states.
Involved Healthcare Leadership and Providers
Healthcare leaders and providers in rural communities are often members of the community they serve. Since they
are familiar with the local community, they are well-positioned to collaborate and help strengthen response
Resilience and Adaptability
Rural communities often report that they are resilient and adaptive. People who live in rural areas are often
able to adapt and be self-sufficient in the face of an emergency or disaster. This resilience is attributed to
the strong social ties held by people in rural areas and individual characteristics, such as tenacity and
at a Critical Access Hospital in Sandusky, Michigan
Initial response to the cyberattack included taking all operations offline. Hospital staff was able to
adapt quickly to this change, and the hospital CEO attributed that to their experience in a rural community
and being used to occasionally dealing with digital interruptions.
Each rural community is different, as is each community's specific strengths. A community is made up of
different individuals, cultures, associations, institutions, physical characteristics, and relationships. These
components combine to create unique community assets that can contribute to rural planning, response, and
Rural communities should take the time to determine what community assets exist and identify how those assets
may contribute to emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. For more information, see Identify Assets/Resources Available in the Rural
Community Health Toolkit.