September 13, 2004
During the past several
weeks, many have tracked the events in Florida.
13, 2004: Punta Gorda, Florida. Along a 45-mile stretch of U.S.
Highway 17 in southwest Florida, every other house is draped in
a bright blue tarp, as mangled rooftops and curbsides lined with
piles of twisted debris offer vivid reminders of the wrath of
recent hurricanes. Now, with monstrous Hurricane Ivan swirling
into the Gulf, storm-weary Floridians scramble to prepare again,
though many homes and businesses were never unboarded after hurricanes
Charley and Frances roared through the state only weeks ago, leaving
more than 50 dead and countless homes and lives in disarray. Yet
Florida residents are far from alone in their plight - in just
the past month, almost 16,000 American Red Cross volunteers have
stepped up to both lend a hand and a shoulder of support to residents
in the hard-hit Sunshine State. And even as Ivan approaches, their
work continues, supplying hot meals, water, shelter, cleaning
supplies and emotional and financial support to hurricane victims."
Three years ago in New
to the scene almost immediately, 'Fothergill says. Most were New
Yorkers, but many volunteers, such as firefighters and rescue
workers, came from other states and even other countries to help.
People who never had volunteered for anything in their lives suddenly
found themselves at Ground Zero. According to the Red Cross, the
outpouring of volunteer effort after the terrorist attacks was
the largest response ever to a disaster.... Some who came to help
and didnt have specialized skills were frustrated they couldnt
do more. Fothergill wants to correct the common misconception
that people panic during disasters. 'People remain orderly and
help each other,' she says, noting that the media 'overplays incidences
of panic and looting.'"
If you live in an area
that has been affected by a disaster, "You may be able to
help out. Children of all ages can help in the shelter by babysitting
other children or cleaning up or serving food. You can even help
with sandbagging or cleaning up your house after a tornado or
hurricane or earthquake."
If you don't live in
an area that has been affected, but you still want to help, here
are some things to consider:
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER, TALLAHASSEE - As residents across
Florida start rebuilding from Hurricane Charley, the State of
Florida encourages everyone to contribute wisely towards recovery
efforts. Consider the following before you donate goods, money,
or your time: Financial contributions are preferred.... Donate
through an experienced organization.... Confirm the need before
collecting.... Volunteer wisely to help others..."
You don't want to send
money (you don't have it, or you would rather help in another
way), but you don't know what else you can do. Maybe you are too
far away from Florida, and you are thinking, "What if something
like that happened where I live? Then what would I do?"
The best thing to do
before a disaster strikes is to be prepared.
"Talk with your
family about disasters that can happen where you live. Talk with
your family about why you need to prepare for these events. Calmly
explain the potential dangers, and plan to share responsibilities
and work together as a team. Make sure every family member knows
their particular responsibilities. Designate an alternate in case
a person is not there at the time."
What could your responsibilities
be? Is there more you would like to do--if only you knew how?
The Red Cross offers
first aid, CPR, swimming, lifeguarding, HIV/AIDS education, Babysitter's
Training, and more. To see what is available in your area, you
can find the chapter nearest you at:
The more you know before
a disaster strikes, the better prepared you will be to deal with
the situation. How can you help yourself and your family to be
ready in the event of a disaster?
"Every family needs
to plan for what might happen. You should sit down with your family
and talk about: * What types of disasters might happen * What
you should do to prepare (like creating your family disaster kit)
* What to do if you are asked to evacuate (which means to leave
your home)... You can also talk with your whole neighborhood about
disaster plans. Find out if someone in your neighborhood has a
special skill -- like being a doctor."
And if you can't stay
in your neighborhood...
"You may have to
leave your house during a disaster and may sleep somewhere else
for a while. Its smart to put together your own Kids
Activity Survival Kit so you will have things to do and share
with other kids. These can all be stored in a backpack or duffel
bag. Just make sure you can carry it easily. Some suggested items
for your Activity Survival Kit..."
Knowing what to do, and
being able to offer a helping hand, can often make it easier to
cope in a disaster situation.
Questions of the Week:
Who is responsible for disaster preparedness in your area? What
do you need to know to be ready and able to help your family and
your community before, during, and after a disaster strikes? What
skills do you have that you could share? How might being able
to help others help you to better deal with a crisis situation?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum