Weathering the Storm
Since 2004, more than one billion people around the world have lost their homes, businesses, family members or lives to natural disasters. That’s one in six. As of this writing, tornadoes recently destroyed entire towns in the Midwest, there’s historic Mississippi River flooding, more 1000 wildfires are raging in Northern California and major earthquakes have devastated huge portions of Asia.
Natural disasters can happen anywhere, and they often come out of the blue. But proactive preparedness and a clearheaded response will help mitigate the negative effects. In the first 30 days after disaster strikes, keep your wits about you and your emotions in check, and you’ll be well on your way to being back in action.
Emergency Preparedness: Calm Before (and After) the Storm
Perhaps the most important part of coping with a natural disaster happens beforehand. You can minimize damage, chances of personal injury and recovery time by having insurance and emergency numbers handy, a disaster supply kit accessible and an emergency plan.
“In a last-minute evacuation, you don’t have time to think, you just want to get out,” says Wayne Mitchell, deputy director of Cal Fire, California’s “statewide fire department” specializing in forest and wildfires. “And you need to be prepared ahead of time.”
A native and six-decade resident of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, Bill Coleman lived through three Category 5 hurricanes before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. He had taken the necessary steps and was unbowed as Katrina approached. “I took all the precautions—I had ¾-inch plywood custom cut and installed on all the windows and we moved all the outside furniture inside, so there were not projectiles,” he recalls. Thanks to his preparation, his house weathered the storm.
Taking 30 minutes today to create an emergency plan can save time, save money and even save lives down the road. This plan should include an out-of-town contact who can take you (and your pets) in, a meet-up location in case you get separated from your family and everyone should have a list of important family contact numbers.