One of the greatest outcomes of Hurricane Katrina was FEMA recognizing the importance of pets during a natural disaster. FEMA opened the door to the creation of pet friendly shelters. People like the idea of being sheltered with their pets.
Anyone who ever worked with me, knows that I always keep my vehicle stocked with supplies in preparation of providing an emergency response; but, all of the equipment in the world isn’t going to help you if you are not educated in handling disasters. One of the best ways to prepare your staff and volunteers is to train them as Community Emergency Response Team Members. The above link will put you, your staff, and volunteers into contact with other community members dedicated to keeping your community safe in an emergency. If you are working on the public side of a disaster, you will be required to complete FEMA training; this training, is required for most public officials dealing with disasters.
Often preparation is the most important aspect of disaster preparedness; but cleanup after a disaster will aid in being allow back. I was never able to make headway in opening pet friendly shelters in a county in north Florida because one previous attempt was made, years before my arrival, in a public school. Whoever organized the sheltering of animals in the school left the cleanup to school personnel. School administration never forgot that.
It is an important reminder that cleanup after a disaster could be the most important aspect of preparing for your next disaster. In the Boy Scouts, we always had a rule to leave a campsite better than we found it. It is a good rule to follow when closing down a pet shelter following a disaster.
One of the tragic part of being the midst of a disaster is the problem of pets being left behind when their owners evacuate. Not only does a shelter have to deal with the influx of these abandoned pets, you have to deal with the pets that are turned away at sheltering locations that prohibit animals.
In our recent response to the epidemic, we have eyewitness accounts as to our nation getting a failing grade as to our preparation for a disaster. In the Boy Scouts, our motto was Be Prepared. Our problem as a nation is that we believe that someone else will assume our responsibility for being prepared.
Preparedness begins on an individual level. People have looked a preppers as crazy people and now, in the midst of an epidemic, the preppers are saying, “I told you so!” Being prepared is an ongoing thing, it is not rushing to the grocery store to buy out all of the toilet paper. We as families should always be prepared.
Every community has a continuity of operations plan (COOP). The plan is for every department at the local, county, state, country to continue operations in an emergency. COOP shows us our weaknesses and allows for us to make preparations prior to an emergency.
It is with great dismay that I watch on the news of the governments of New York screaming for the federal government to respond to their emergency. The fact that New York is calling for assistance is evidence that they failed in preparation of an emergency. Fortunately the Feds are there to bail them out, you would think they would show more appreciation.
I frequently get on my soapbox about people seeing themselves as victims. Now I am seeing governments crying out that they are victims, only because they didn’t have the foresight to be prepared. Soon, we will see this epidemic behind us, I hope that people see this as a lesson to accept their role in preparing for a disaster.