Saturday, November 3, 2012
Getting on soapbox:
After Katrina, many jurisdictions (including mine) attempted to create a Special Needs list where individuals and families who would need additional assistance during disasters could register (seniors, people with medical conditions, etc). It has been a massive failure because no one will sign up.
According to FEMA, 20% of any county's population technically falls into what is currently referred to as functional needs groups. Working with community partners like Meals on Wheels, Faith in Action, and the Area Agency on Aging, our county EMA has managed to convince almost five hundred residents to register.
Most counties are lucky if they get thirty.
There are three reasons for this. 1) Ignorance. Residents aren't aware this service exists. 2). Pride. Many people are unwilling to admit that they can't take care of themselves and 3). Fear. If their name is on a list, individuals are afraid they'll be victimized.
We've been working diligently to combat all three but it's an uphill climb.
If you know someone who needs assistance because of medical, mobility, communications or other issues, please ask them to talk to their county EMA/ESDA or Health Department to see if they can get registered. It should be part of every family's emergency plan if they have a family member who needs this assistance.
I've worked in Public Health and Emergency Management for three years and we all admit that we're not going to be able to save everybody. But our chances are improved when families and individuals have plans for disasters and are prepared to become their own responders, instead of victims.
Getting off soapbox.