Who will do what in an emergency? The time to answer that question is when we are in a state of calm. In the wake of Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy, many people donated time, money and services. The outpouring of support was there, but better coordination would have sped up the response time and had a stronger long-term impact.
For example, many people generously donated clothing, but responders found that the overwhelming response resulted in the impossible task of sorting, distributing, and storing the donations while the people affected had immediate needs for food, water and shelter. While bags of clothing were piling up, baby diapers and bottled water were in short supply.
The stories that came out of that challenging time were of neighbor helping neighbor and people and businesses from outside the impacted area traveling to help. That informal response was what gave many hope and the assistance they needed in the days following the destructive rains. Yet, months later, people and businesses were still struggling to rebuild and go on with their lives. Some are still struggling.
Organizations can share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle—preparation, response and recovery—to help disaster survivors and their communities. The Disaster Services Task Force, will work with other community partners such as the Red Cross and Catholic Charities to identify areas for improvement.
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