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Thinking About Disasters

August 21st, 2011 at 06:55 am

When dh and I moved to ID in May 2010 we applied and were accepted as Red Cross volunteers. We completed the required training and are now members of the Disaster Action Team (DAT). We are on call several weeks during year, with the dates aligned to fit our travel schedule. This week, even though we are not on call, we were asked to assist with emergency services in two local communities after house fires. It seems the people "on call" were not available but fortunately we were able to step in.

After an emergency, such as a fire or flood, the Red Cross typically provides 3 nights in a hotel for the displaced family, plus money for clothes/shoes and food allowance for a week. It's not a huge sum, but for families that have lost everything, it makes a difference and is much appreciated. The Red Cross also helps procure medication lost in the fire and puts families in touch with community-based resources to help them rebuild their lives (e.g., counseling, housing, etc.). The Red Cross aid must be requested within three days of the incident.

The cause of one fire was electrical and the other was accidentally started while filling a gas generator in the garage. In both cases, the homes were destroyed and 11 people were left homeless. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured but the experience made me think about the importance of having:

~ an emergency evacuation plan for the family;
~ a plan for temporary/emergency shelter for family pets (one family had two 100 lb. dogs and no hotel was willing to take them);
~ a list of medications for everyone in the household;
~ a list of important phone numbers such as insurance, credit cards, etc. (I periodically email my list to myself so I can access it from anywhere).

3 Responses to “Thinking About Disasters”

  1. snafu Says:

    Kudos to you & DH for stepping in to help as a Red Cross volunteers. There aren't enough words to express how much value Red Cross volunteers give. Sadly most folks are woefully unprepared for unexpected problems. I guess we all think horrible things happen to other people...we're invincible.

    I wish I could tell everyone to create an ICE to themselves. Should information be needed, it can be accessed from any computer or smart phone, anywhere in the world.

  2. ThriftoRama Says:

    Having been in an overwhelming disaster (Hurricane K), I can say that the work the Red Cross and people like you do really does make a difference, even if it is only for 3 days. That is enough time for you to get over the first schock wave and take a minute to think about what to do next. It's hard to do that if you have literally no where to go and are standing outside of your burning house in the middle of the night.

  3. Jerry Says:

    I am paying close attention back home as the hurricane approaches New England, and I really appreciate the Red Cross, the National Guard, and all of those who take the lead in helping after disasters. Preparedness just isn't taught as much as it should be, and it is truly the only insurance that you have a chance to get through a major problem. Usable food storage, potable water, batteries, shelter, and other items can go a long way when it gets bad...
    Jerry

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