How prepared are you to live in an emergency shelter?
We are prone to repeat the mistakes of other people unless we pay attention to lessons taught by their ordeal.
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey, a historic category four storm, hit Houston and Texas. The five-day pouring rain flooded over 100,000 homes. It drove over 30,000 people into emergency shelters and impelled 450,000 victims to seek disaster assistance.
Hurricane Harvey has surpassed Hurricane Ike (2008) and Tropical Storm Allison (2001) which up to that time, were considered the two most destructive storms in recent memory.
In fact, disasters are so frequent these days that it is hard to draw the line between the end of one disaster and the beginning of another.
Just about a week following Hurricane Harvey’s battering Texas and Houston, Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida. Over 5 million people were ordered to evacuate. Prior to the devastation in Florida, Hurricane Irma wrecked havoc on the Caribbean islands and caused a lot of destruction in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, forcing thousands to take refuge in emergency shelters.
Were all these evacuees prepared to embrace the condition at the emergency shelters? Without a doubt, living in an emergency shelter ill-prepared will add insult ot injury. The reason being that the provisions provided by the emergency management may be just about enough for the thousands in the shelters.
Nowadays considerable success in forecasting these phenomenons has been achieved. For instance, Hurricane Harvey was forecast before it hit down, and so people were warned early to evacuate. Thousands obeyed and moved to emergency shelters.
Surprisingly, when the storm did come, some people were found wading through the floodwaters only to be rescued by officials. The question on the lips of people was, ‘Why? Did they not hear the official warning to evacuate?’ What could be the problem?
Why People Hesitate To Evacuate
Some people tend to deny danger even when it is obvious. And sometimes people just do not want to leave the possessions they have taken many years to toil for, even when disaster is staring them in the face.
Listen to what one survivor of Hurricane Irma said after the evacuation order went out: “We were urged to evacuate. I hesitated; I did not want my house destroyed, as if staying would have kept it up.” Finally she and her son fled to safety ill-prepared.
Another reason why some hesitate to leave when official announcement has gone out is that, they may have elderly ones staying with them and have not prepared the emergency survival kits they would need at the emergency shelters.
For some, going to live among a crowd of people in a shelter where privacy will be compromised is too much for them to imagine. And so they would be lingering on, hoping that the storm passes over and no flood comes, only to realize in the last minute that they will have to move after all, to save their life.
The question, though is, how many of the thousands of the evacuees did plan ahead of a possible disaster? Have they considered the items they would need to survive at a temporary shelter—in a friend’s abode or in an emergency shelter? What do you need to have some comfort in a temporary shelter should a disaster strikes?
Why plan in advance
Considering the many survival items one has to acquire, it is highly impossible to have them all in an emergency situation. It needs forethought and being proactive. The survivor who lived through Hurricane Irma quoted earlier said: “I will have everything I need just in case. Because let me tell you, trying to get prepared after you know it is coming is next to impossible. I got to the store fairly quickly and they were already out of flashlights, water, water jugs, gas jugs…”
The point is driven home! That is, planning ahead before a disaster strikes. What you must remember is that in the aftermath of every disaster, all the basic amenities are disrupted. Usually there is no gas, no electricity, no water, and no store to buy from, just to name a few. Therefore, you must plan, and be prepared for a possible disaster.
What would you need to survive the first few days in a shelter following a disaster?
- Food needs for at least 3 days per person
- Water needs for at least 3 days per person
- Energy needs—flashlight, solar items are the best, stove
- Sanitary needs for women and children
- Clothing needs
- Sturdy shoes
- Beds—blanket, sleeping bag, air bed
- Emergency survival kit
- First aid kits
- Needs for elderly and disabled
- Needs for pets
All this must be taken into account when you are planning and getting prepared ahead of disaster.
Indeed, no one can predict what will occur in an hour into the future. Some disasters may come suddenly catching us unprepared. Therefore, it is prudent to plan and prepare. “Be ready, be prepared, as you never know when a disaster is going to hit,” says the survivor quoted earlier.
In conclusion we would like to reiterate that there is no spare life and so it is important to plan and prepare for a disaster, so as to have some comfort in a temporary shelter. When an official order is given to evacuate it is wise to take heed so that we do not place our life in jeopardy.
Thus, we will avoid the mistakes made by others who experienced a disaster unprepared for living in temporary shelter.
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