Opinion: Is your community ready for a hurricane?

The 2012 hurricane season is upon us, so it's a good time to ask yourself what you would do in one. Do you have a backpack with all the essential items your family will need? How about a list of phone numbers for your emergency contacts?

Joann Hale
Joann Hale

The 2012 hurricane season is upon us, so it's a good time to ask yourself what you would do in one. Do you have a backpack with all the essential items your family will need?  How about a list of phone numbers for your emergency contacts? You can find a helpful checklist of emergency items from the American Red Cross, www.redcross.org.

You should also find out what preparations your community has made. Hurricanes can affect millions of people, making it impossible for any agency to meet all the emergency needs. The first responders will often come from within your community and use local resources. So my advice is to get to know the disaster responders in your neighborhood — and find out how you can help.

Local businesses, civic clubs, faith groups and charities, such as food banks and clothes closets, should plan to coordinate their response to a hurricane or other disaster. Forming a local group of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, which is sometimes called a "VOAD," is a good way to make these disaster plans. If you are interested, helpful info and statewide contacts are available through the National VOAD organization, online at www.nvoad.org.

Another way you can help is by preparing to conduct search and rescue operations as a volunteer. To do this you need CERT training (which stands for Community Emergency Response Team). Many fire departments or other local emergency agencies offer CERT training for free.

Caring for people with special needs is another serious concern in a disaster such as a hurricane. Medical personnel are encouraged to contact their local emergency management agency ahead of time if they would be willing to volunteer in a hurricane shelter.

Rescuing animals, such as pets or livestock, is often a challenge. Some shelters will accept your pets and some do not. The ASPCA offers guidelines on how to take care of animals during an emergency — and as with everything, it helps to have a plan.

Lastly, if your community is less familiar with hurricanes than, say, coastal Florida, you have all the more reason to prepare. Last year, Hurricane Irene showed us once again that hurricanes can strike many miles from the sea, flooding communities from West Virginia to Vermont. Let's hope this year sees less of that. But be ready for more.

Joann Hale is an Emergency Response Specialist with Church World Service.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


Share/Save/Bookmark

Browse news release archive

 

All active news articles