It was quite a week!
It began with the Christchurch New Zealand 7.0 earthquake last Saturday. Buildings crumbled, facades lined the main streets and shaken residents have had to endure more than 100 aftershocks, a few in the range of 6.0. Thanks to tight building standards after a devastating 7.8 quake in the 1930s, incredibly no one was killed. But the damage to businesses and homes will reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more.
And then there were the continuing wildfires in Boulder Colorado. Fires that sprung up and altered their path so quickly that residents — some of whom are experienced firefighters themselves — had little warning to evacuate their own homes. Breathless and shaken, residents grabbed what they needed, and in some cases only what they could grab, to get to a temporary location and wait for news on their neighborhood and their homes. As of yesterday, the fire, still only 30 percent contained, has charred nearly 6,400 acres and has destroyed 169 homes.
Then on Thursday night the small community of San Bruno, California, just a few miles from the San Francisco Airport, was rocked — a more accurate term would be obliterated — by the sudden explosion of a natural gas pipeline. At least four people have died, many more are hurt or burned, some seriously. The fire itself was so hot that car bumpers melted two blocks away. The fire was finally contained on Friday, but those surveying what is left of the once quiet, lushly green neighborhood, described it as Kosovo after the war, or a charred moonscape. Block after block of nothing left except concrete foundation after foundation. Nothing left.
Now that the original disaster is behind them, the time and energy that it will take for the people affected by each of these disasters to recover, is just beginning to sink in. Think about it for a moment. These people were running to get out of their homes. They had little if ahy time to grab what they needed, let alone stop and think about it.
For those who lost their homes, do they have the vital information they need, with them? If they’re injured, do they or the physicians treating them have access to their medical or allergy history.
Let’s say they are all right physically. Do they access to their insurance documents for their home, cars and other property? Do they even know their policy numbers or the contact names so they can get started on filing claims.
Do they have what they need financially? Do they have their credit cards, bank account numbers, know their credit limits or who to call if they need an emergency extension? Do they know where to send their mortgage or rent payment or have copies of the deed to their home, their birth certificates or citizenship or benefit papers. Can they even prove who they are and what they own?
Do they have any idea where they are going to go when they evacuate? Will the things that they need be at that location waiting for them? Do family members in different locations know where to gather? Do they all know what to do when they get there? Can they reach their family and friends quickly and easily?
Do they have access to or copies of the things that mean the most to them? Their keepsakes, family photos and papers, the things around them that inspire memories and make them laugh, smile or just feel good.
Yes they’ll have a home for a few days, along with water and food. The Red Cross will see to that. But what happens after that. What happens if they go back to their home and there’s nothing there but a foundation? Yes after months, maybe even years of hard work, they will survive. They’ll find a way and little by little their life will return.
The thing is, they don’t have to just survive. With a little planning, a little thought and a few hours work, they can do more. They can actually thrive after a disaster. They can have their vital information, papers and medical information in a few different locations, at their fingertips 24/7 from any location. They can have evacuation and Get Back To Life Plans guiding them through those first hours, days and weeks, helping them to restore — as much as possible — their lives back or nearly back to where it was before the disaster occurred.
Of course you can’t replace a home completely, you can’t replace entire neighborhoods and you can’t bring back those who have been lost. But with a little work now, you can build yourself a roadmap, ensuring that you have what you will need during the twists and turns of recovery. With that map survival turns into recovery and recovery turns into restoration.
It seem fitting on this ninth anniversary of 9/11 to talk about restoration. We all know how hard it can be. But we here at the Ready In 10 Network, want you to know that a little bit of planning can make it a lot easier.
The one thing we’ve all learned this week is how quickly a normal evening can turn into disaster filled nightmare. Last week the people of Christchurch and the people of San Bruno were just sitting around their houses surfing the internet just like you, without a clue that in just a few hours or days, their lives would be forever changed.
Do yourself a favor, do your family a favor. Take an afternoon and get ready. Our downloadable Ready In 10 Get Ready Kit is only $19.95 and has everything you need to get ready in one afternoon. Ready In 10 is a great start, and we also have a disaster page, filled with videos and guides on preparing for different types of disasters.
Whatever you do, whether it’s from us or from another great disaster plan provider, don’t let another day go by without being ready. It’s so simple and once you do it, you can toss your plans in your plastic emergency bin and forget about them. Unless you need them. And when you do, they’ll be there waiting for you to Grab Them & Go.
Take care and please, be safe.
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Laura and Janet Greenwald, are the founders of The Next of Kin Education Project and Stuf Productions. The mother & daughter team were not only instrumental in enacting three Next of Kin Laws in California and Illinois, but created the Seven Steps to Successful Notification System, which teaches quick, easy, next of kin notification skills for trauma patients to hospitals like Dallas’ Methodist Medical Center.
Information on Specific Types of Disasters
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