Leaning Into New Capabilities

Corey Eide

New year, same mission. New year, more urgency than ever.

2018 decimated communities across America and around the world. Records were broken. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, you read the headlines. Families across the world faced these head-on. Team Rubicon (TR) is aggressively leaning into 2019. Here are a few things we’re focused on and using as a springboard to help more families for the new year and years to come.



Sand Bagging 
One of the simple and meaningful opportunities for Team Rubicon to assist more communities across the country is to mobilize our brawn. Filling and placing sandbags remains a fixture of communities preparing for impending water events. This past year in Missoula County, Montana, 26 TR volunteers worked with 1,498 spontaneous volunteers to fill 112,400 sandbags. We’re currently developing a consistent approach for our teams across the country to assist their local communities.

Mold Remediation
Continuing in the theme of water events, anyone that’s experienced the effect of mold can attest to how detrimental it can be to one’s health. There is no shortage of water events across the country where remediating mold at no cost could provide long-term benefit. In the past year, we’ve tested two different approaches to remediating mold. We’re currently working with national experts to determine the best model for TR to use across the country. In determining the best model, we’re weighing factors of local regulations, volunteer safety, the complexity of work, and required training.

With over 20,000 homes lost this past wildfire season, we know there are more ways we can help families affected. This NY Times piece provides a first-person perspective into the endless challenges facing residents of Paradise, California as they consider the future of their community. Whether ahead of wildfires, during the evacuation process or in recovery, there are more opportunities for TR to help. We’ve begun a deliberate planning process and will be engaging with key emergency management agencies and non-profit organizations as we identify a sustained approach.



2018 launched Team Rubicon’s Rebuild efforts from Houston, Texas where TR was able to welcome 23 families back into their homes. The model in Texas (you can read more here) will serve as the model we plan to replicate after major events across the country. We recently launched in Collier County, Florida with the same model. We’re working with leaders in the construction and insurance sectors (more to come on this) across the country to increase building standards and to set families up for greater resilience. This year, you will also see a significant focus on preparing for our long-term interest in bending the arc of equity in recovery by helping families rebuild their homes in low-attention disasters. These are the events that get little national media attention and subsequently limited assistance.

In Puerto Rico, we launched an entirely different model focused on putting resilient roofs back onto homes. We’ve been able to welcome back 481 families back into their homes. This was only feasible through the work of local communities, The Disaster Services Corporation – Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA, FEMA, and the work of four general contractors and the 88 workers who were employed through this effort. We’re actively gathering insights from this effort to ensure we’re ready to rapidly deploy the model again when it matches the need.

Emergency Medical Assistance 
Although 2018 was a huge year for TR’s international medical capability — 1st NGO in North American to meet the new World Health Organization Emergency Medical Team standard. We still have work to do to do. We’re in the process of refining processes, improving equipment and supply kits, expanding partnerships, and building a deeper bench of medical professionals that can rapidly deploy to communities around the world. If you know someone experienced in emergency medicine, let them know we’re looking for them.

To close this out, we’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. We believe that folks affected by disasters, deserve better.

We take it to heart and know we can do better and we will. This year we’ll be taking a deliberate approach to understanding how families affected by disaster interface with and experience Team Rubicon. There are ample opportunities for us to better understand how families would like to interact with TR, what their expectations are, and how we can improve (and potentially add to) the capabilities we offer them.

Here’s to taking on whatever challenges arise in 2019.

  • Reflection

    A Better Tomorrow

    A volunteer responding to tornadoes in Ohio gets a glimpse at the hidden value of the work Greyshirts do.

  • Preparedness

    How to Prepare Your Pets for Disaster

    From leashes for Fido to carriers for Kitty, here are our top disaster preparedness for pets tips to add to your emergency planning now.

  • Feature Story

    Serving World Health Means Innovating

    From Haiti to Ukraine, for World Health Day, we look at where we've delivered disaster relief and humanitarian aid over the past 14 years, and how far we have to go.

Read More Stories