A significant number of RJW Training System subscribers are located on the east coast. Our hearts go out to each of them. If you would like to donate to relief efforts, consider giving through a reputable charitable organization such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, the United Way, World Vision or Operation USA. We are currently devoting RJWestmore blog space to lessons we have learned about disaster preparedness and recovery from Superstorm Sandy. This week, we will focus on whether disaster victims should rely on disaster recovery efforts provided by charitable and government organizations.
(We excluded my usual “firedogisms” in this post, out of respect for those who are still suffering from this storm’s devastating effects.)
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the situation was grim. Millions of people were without power, gas was in short supply and desperate east coast residents dug through dumpsters to find food. Time Magazine estimates the amount of damage caused by the Superstorm will exceed $60 billion. Citing data compiled by a forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, Time projects the sobering figure that Superstorm Sandy will end up causing $20 billion in property damage and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business.
Two weeks after the Superstorm slammed the east coast, claiming 43 lives; millions of struggling survivors have criticized organizations including FEMA and the American Red Cross for a perceived slow response.
“I think that we are near flawless so far in this operation,” said Gail McGovern, chief executive officer and president of the Red Cross.
Although the Red Cross continues to list available resource offerings on its website, many victims are still without power and, so, are unable to check the nonprofit group’s updates. The Huffington Post reports that many experts point to the sheer nature of the storm’s damage, which they say precludes relief organizations from offering up a perfect response.
“This is going to be, I think, more challenging than (Hurricane) Katrina in the sense of the large geographical areas that were impacted,” said Ky Luu, head of the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy at Tulane University. “From a logistical perspective, it’s going to be very complex and difficult to manage.”
Nevertheless, recovery is underway:
- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announcing an end to odd-even gas rationing.
- The head of NJ Transit said a severely damaged rail line could be restored sooner than expected.
- State officials announced they are readying a shuttered military base to temporarily house residents displaced by the mega-storm.
- Newark Mayor Cory Booker recently announced the opening of a disaster recovery center in Newark, saying, “The station will help residents dig out from the tremendous damage suffered by the state’s largest city when Hurricane Sandy hit last month.”
- The Newark Community Center will be run by city officials and representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and will remain open 12 hours a day for at least a month. Mayor Booker urged residents who suffered significant damage to their homes or businesses to come to the center to register for federal aid.
- FEMA has been directing federal resources to support state, local and tribal communities in affected areas before, during and after the crisis.
However, an editorial in the New York Times recently called attention to what has yet to be done: “For all the efforts of federal, state and local officials to help people after Hurricane Sandy, unacceptable pockets of suffering remain. Ten days after the hurricane struck, thousands of people in New York City’s public housing are still without heat, water, electricity or food. Many people needed assistance after the storm, but the most vulnerable of the city’s inhabitants seem to be among the last in line to get it.”
Since it’s safe to say people are rallying and federal and charitable organizations are working hard to address the myriad needs relative to the storm, it makes sense to consider this:
Is it fair for victims to rely on charitable and government organizations to bail them out after a natural or manmade disaster? Are large groups expected to quickly and efficiently meet each and every need immediately even when so large a geographical location and so many are affected?
We pose the question not as a debate about national politics but to remind folks that prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. So, whether or not you agree with the way FEMA and the American Red Cross and other organizations have administered aid post-Sandy, we would like to offer this suggestion, which stems from our motto to BE SAFE. It always pays to be prepared.
Assemble an emergency kit before disaster strikes to tide you over until help arrives. That way, you will be able to help yourself and others when a natural or manmade emergency strikes. In fact, the life you save might be your own! For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system.