The following was contributed by Guest Blogger Jeff Jellets, Territorial Disaster Coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Southern Headquarters in Atlanta, GA.
September is National Preparedness Month.
The timing is always curious to me. September is the historical peak of hurricane season and most years, I’m way too busy responding to a looming tropical cyclone to think – at that point anyway — much of preparedness. When you live in the path of hurricanes, the best time to prepare is … well … way before September 1st.
But September 2011 also marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a terrible event that also serves as a somber reminder that America, as a people and a nation, must be always be prepared. As www.ready.gov, FEMA’s disaster preparedness website, succinctly states September 2011 marks a “Time To Remember. A Time To Prepare.”
And, while most of my Septembers have been preoccupied with the paths and intensities of tropical storms, 9/11 has always remained a day apart. I served in New York City at the World Trade Center site, and not a year passes in my life when that day is not marked in remembrance. I am sure most Americans will take “Time To Remember” those that were lost on that terrible day in 2001 and, like me, will also take time to honor all those who continue to serve our great country today.
But what does “A Time To Prepare” really mean?
First, prepare yourself, your family and your home. This means developing a family disaster plan, building a family disaster kit, and protecting your home from the most common disaster hazards. For example, every home should have a smoke detector to protect your family from fire, and every home should have a weather radio to warn your family of dangerous weather. What if you had to evacuate? Where would you go? If your family was separated in emergency, how would you reconnect with one another after reaching safe locations? These are questions you should answer long before disasters threaten.
Don’t let your family become disaster victims! Be survivors. By preparing, you not only protect yourself and those you love, but you also put yourself into a position where you are much more likely to be able to help others. Just as importantly, by being ready to take care of yourself, you allow professional emergency responders to focus their attention on life-saving efforts for others who may be trapped are in the areas hardest hit by the disaster.
Second, prepare your community. And in this sense, I mean community in the broadest sense of the word. First, you need to think about your neighborhood. In an emergency, it is often your neighbors who will be the first people to rush to help. In a catastrophic incident, like an earthquake or ice storm, where whole communities are affected, professional emergency responders may need to time to reach your particular area. Know the people in your neighborhood who have special needs, such as the elderly or small children, and plan to check-in on them during a crisis to ensure they are okay. Likewise, identify people in your neighborhood with special skills or training. If a doctor or nurse lives on your block, that’s important to know.
Now extend your community preparedness efforts beyond where you live. Think about where you work, where your children go to school or daycare, where you worship, and even the car you drive. Disasters can occur at any time or place … so it is just as important to have a disaster plan for your workplace or church and a disaster kit in your car as well as your home. Talk to your children’s school or daycare about their emergency plans and make sure they have a procedure for reunifying you with your child in the event of an emergency.
Third, prepare to help others. Once you have taken care of yourself, your family and your community, then you can start thinking about helping others. The most important thing to remember here is to help appropriately. In the United States, most municipalities have a disaster response and recovery plan coordinated by a local emergency management agency. If you want to help, you have to fit into that plan. One of the easiest ways to do so is to affiliate with an existing voluntary agency, like The Salvation Army, or check to see if your community supports a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
Another important point to remember is that training is essential. The Salvation Army, among other voluntary agencies, offers disaster training. If you are not sure where to start, let me recommend basic first aid and CPR. Basic lifesaving skills have application far beyond just disaster response; even on the quietest day, someone around you might become injured or ill and it may be up to you to help save their life.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you by this point to take emergency preparedness a bit more seriously this September than you have in the past. If so, let me give you one more challenge – Don’t stop preparing on September 31st!
As Spencer W. Kimball said, “Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program.” Make your emergency preparedness and planning efforts more than a one month endeavor. Revisit and update your family and neighborhood disaster plans periodically. Change the supplies in your family disaster kit so the food, water, batteries and other perishables stay fresh. In short, don’t let the major lessons of past disasters fade away.
Stay tuned for “What’s In Your Disaster Kit?” in Part 2 of our National Preparedness Month blog – coming soon!
The Salvation Army is working to care for thousands of evacuees in Upstate New York. Flooding in several towns has caused blocked roads creating travel difficulties for residents. Six mobile canteen units have been deployed to the affected areas, providing relief for towns such as Schenectady, Delhi, Roxbury, Margaretville, Fleischmanns and Schoharie. Emergency disaster teams will work to support these areas with limited resources, providing the much needed food, drinks, and additional relief to community members and first responders.
The Salvation Army sent baby formula, food and diapers sent to the towns of Margaretville and Fleischmanns. 2,000 clean-up kits were provided in Oneonta to assist those families with damaged homes. 1,000 more kits will be delivered to eight impacted areas in the Mid-Hudson region. An additional 1,000 kits will be provided for distribution on Long Island.
In addition, Walmart donated two semi-truckloads of drinking water. This generous donation was sent to hospitals and nursing homes in Delaware County where contaminated water remains a major issue.
The Salvation Army is in need of donations to continue providing relief to thousands across the East Coast. Donations can be made online at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Or, use your mobile phone to text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation.
Check back here for updates or you can visit us on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Thousands are still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene’s tear along the east coast and The Salvation Army continues to meet the needs of individuals and families of the affected areas in several states. In the southern part of the U.S. alone, The Salvation Army has served more than 60,000 meals, snacks and drinks and handed out hundreds of clean-up kits.
From North Carolina to Massachusetts, here are the updates:
A current priority in North Carolina is helping the 2,400 stranded individuals on an island in the Outerbanks. The Salvation Army is ferrying to the barrier islands from the south while mobile feeding canteen teams from commands in South Carolina are ready to provide the much needed food and water.
In other parts of North Carolina and Virginia, mobile feeding units capable of providing thousands of meals per day, are positioned in Norfolk, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, and the Seaford and York Communities. In Norfolk and Spotsylvania Counties alone, The Salvation Army has already served more than 6,400 meals, snacks and drinks and provided lodging to 265 people. In Hampton Roads, 2,345 meals and 95 clean-up kits have been provided, while the shelter has housed over 270 individuals. Salvation Army mobile kitchens in North Carolina are prepared to serve 90,000 individuals!
In Maryland, The Salvation Army has fed survivors, first responders and volunteers. As of today, 119 volunteers have prayed with individuals and given their time to serve 3,227 meals and 5,019 drinks to affected Maryland residents. Folks still without power in southeast Washington, DC – mostly senior citizens – were provided with meals and beverages last night.
Power outages and continuous flooding from high rising rivers are two biggest challenges in New Jersey as a result of Hurricane Irene. While local authorities work to bring back order in the garden state, The Salvation Army has served 15,000 meals to first responders and evacuees.
In New York City, 1,000 clean-up kits have been secured for deployment to the Mid-Hudson region. What’s a clean up kit? See here.
Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services crews continue to provide for areas in the Greater Philadelphia region affected by the storm. Three canteens were deployed Monday to provide meals and refreshments to those experiencing flooding, power losses, and damage.
In Connecticut, The Salvation Army has served hundreds of meals to evacuees at shelters as well as to first responders.
Vermont is experiencing the worst flooding disaster in the last 80 years. A canteen capable of serving 500 has been deployed to Ludlow, VT to provide meals and care for victims. Ludlow is just one of many towns in Vermont devastated by the storm. The Salvation Army intends to deploy more canteens to other struggling areas of the state.
Hundreds of survivors in Greenfield, Massachusetts will receive clean-up kits after flooding in the western part of the state. The Salvation Army continues to serve at numerous shelter facilities throughout Massachusetts and other parts of New England.
In addition to providing meals, beverages, snacks, clean-up kits, and general support, Salvation Army officers are always willing and ready to provide spiritual counseling to those impacted by disaster of any kind.
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Click here to donate! *Or, simply text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone.
* A one‐time donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging & data rates may apply. Donations are collected for The Salvation Army by mobilecause.com. Reply STOP to 80888 to stop. Reply HELP to 80888 for help. For terms, see www.igfn.org/t.
Check out this video presenting the very foundation of The Salvation Army Disaster services – the Canteen. The Salvation Army deploys these “kitchens on wheels” during times of disaster. A single canteen can provide food for 500 to 5,000 individuals, depending on the unit.
Throughout the last few days, The Salvation Army has served more than 60,000 meals, beverages, and snacks to those impacted by Hurricane Irene.
In total, The Salvation Army has 370 mobile feeding units and five mobile kitchens up and down the East coast, serving those in need.
Check back here for updates. You can also visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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