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Monday, June 06, 2011

Resources for What To Do Immediately After an Emergency: Disaster Response

Unfortunately the reality of this world includes natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, nuclear meltdowns, and floods, just to name a few.

How to Effectively Manage and Plan an Emergency  Situation Using a Portable PA System

Our friends over at Firestorm Solutions have compiled this list of resources to help those recovering from a disaster (with a free PDF book at the bottom):

Immediate Resources:
On Twitter follow http://twitter.com/@RedCross
For shelters, see http://www.redcross.org/nss.

Let friends/family know you're safe http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell

To donate: http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main&s_src=F8HWA002

FEMA Immediately After a Disaster:  http://www.fema.gov/rebuild/recover/index.shtm

FEMA Resources for Alabama: http://www.fema.gov/news/event.fema?id=14192

USDA FSA:  The Farm Service Agency provides assistance for natural disaster losses, resulting from drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation, and other calamities.


The following is an excerpt from Firestorm's Book, Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America By James W. Satterfield & Harry W. Rhulen.

You may download the entire ebook for free here: http://www.firestorm.com/bookform/


Look at the recovery in post-disaster stages, so as to not get overwhelmed.

• Immediate recovery
• Short-term recovery
• Long-term recovery


Immediate Recovery

First and foremost, remain safe. Is the event completely over? For example, the earth no longer quakes, but damaged buildings may continue to fall; the hurricane no longer dumps rains, but the levees then fail.

• In some cases, law enforcement officials and emergency personnel may be in a position to tell you it’s safe to re-enter certain structures. In many cases, however, the aftermath of a disaster is as chaotic as the disaster itself, and they will not be available, at least initially. Don’t panic; use common sense.

• Gather your family—this is your mutual support system; make plans together.

• Handle immediate medical needs—check everyone for wounds or injuries. Use your first aid kit and/or seek additional treatment.

It’s during this time that outside help will probably begin to arrive. Local emergency services people will probably be first on the scene, followed by state representatives, and, if the disaster is large enough, eventually FEMA and other Federal resources.

Remain alert, as there will still be a great deal of confusion. The various assistance agencies might not be communicating
and coordinating well with each other, which means you may get conflicting instructions and information. If someone, even an official, tells you something that doesn’t make sense, if at all possible, wait before you act on that information. Before long, the situation will begin to clarify itself.

• Avoid obvious hazards—downed electric lines, the smell of gas, standing water, etc. Make sure everyone remains alert and knows how to spot and stay away from danger.

• Listen to your emergency radio—use it to determine your next moves, which may be to remain where you are. Be careful of rumors; they can exacerbate a disaster, leading to unnecessary risk or pandemonium.

• Defer making major decisions—focus on the present; when your life is suddenly in upheaval and your status quo is interrupted, you will not be in the frame-of-mind to make sound decisions. But, don’t worry, for the emphasis now should be on your immediate needs. You will not gain anything by deciding or feeling pressure to decide something under duress.

• Expect emotional reactions—emotions run high after a disaster and swing back and forth. Some people are elated, because it’s over; others are depressed, because things are such a mess. Fear is likely to continue for some time. Do not ignore these feelings and reactions as they come up; address them with love and understanding.

• Take in enough food and water—provided you still have your reserves, stay hydrated and nourished in order to maintain energy and stay as comfortable as possible.

• Stay off the phone—lines will be jammed, if they are working at all. Conserve your cell phone batteries.

Short-Term Recovery

Once you’re sure the disaster is over, you move into the short-term recovery phase. Again, your first job is to stay safe. During this period (which could be anywhere from a few hours to several weeks), keep providing emotional support to each other, as the healing process is gradual.

Depending on the kind of disaster you’ve gone through, at this point, you’ll need to start making some decisions. Do you or can you return home? Or do you need to find temporary housing? In doing so, do not rush to any conclusions. Calmly and rationally assess your situation. Now may be the time to activate your contact list.

Long-Term Recovery

For a particularly severe event, recovery can take time, and lots of it. In fact, it can take years before a community regains a sense of normalcy. Emotional reactions really set in at this stage. Children, even some adults, may suffer from nightmares or depression. The disaster preparations you made and practiced will help through this tough time. If the concerns persist, seek professional guidance; there is no shame in doing so.

Again, keep your cool, yet stand up for yourself when that’s required. Be as flexible and resourceful as the situation warrants. Speed-up/Expedite the recovery process with your identity papers and financial records. If for some reason they are not in your evacuation kit, access those that you mailed to a friend and start things moving forward.

Disaster Preparedness—Resources

There is an amazing amount of public information out there about preparing for a disaster, with the most current being online. There is also much duplication, so go to these resources first, as we have found them to be the most helpful.

American Red Cross—Disaster Preparedness
http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/—general information as well as that specific to seniors. Washington headquarters: (202) 303-4498.

Your local Red Cross is listed online or in the phone book.
American Red Cross—Disaster Preparedness for People With Disabilities
http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/prep.html information specific to those with disabilities

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/emergency_preparedness—largest reference web site on the internet—very informative

Medline Plus—Disaster Preparation and Recovery
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/disasterpreparationandrecovery.html brings together authoritative information from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations

DHS (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
http://www.ready.gov/—information categorized by businesses, families and children

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
http://www.fema.gov/areyouready or http://www.fema.gov/spanish/ areyouready/index_spa.shtm—contains emergency response and planning
information. Documents on various hazards can be downloaded along
with fact and planning sheets.

http://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/natural_hazards_1.pdf — helps you to determine local risks in the context of the following natural hazards: floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, lightening, extreme storms, and cold

http://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/natural_hazards_2.pdf —considers extreme heat, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, debris flow, mud slides, tsunamis or tidal waves, fires and wildfires

http://maps.google.com/—good resource for printable maps

Google Earth
http://earth.google.com/—downloadable free maps

DPERA (The Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association)
http://www.disasters.org/—multi-lingual site linking disaster professionals around the world

U.S. Department of Education
http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/emergencyplan/crisisplanning.pdf—a free downloadable book to help schools prepare for disasters

HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
http://www.hhs.gov/emergency/index.shtml—disasters by type

Firestorm Solutions, LLC
http://www.firestorm.com/book/book.html—a free .pdf version of this book

If you have any other good resources, please leave it in a comment!