Every disaster teaches lessons we can all use to become better prepared in the future. I’m not a regular reader of Popular Mechanics, but my Professional Organizer colleague Amanda Kovattana (thanks, Amanda!) pointed me toward the October issue, with its stories of four people who faced disasters and survived.
Among the four stories in the article, those of us in earthquake country might take special note of the last one, “Rule 4: Outlast the Aftermath.”
In this article, Texas resident Mark Vorderbruggen tells of the steps he and his neighbors took last September as Hurricane Ike roared toward the Gulf Coast. Their preparations enabled them to survive and triumph in a storm that took dozens of lives and left tens of thousands without adequate food, water, or power for days.
For me, the most powerful lesson was the way in which Vorderbruggen and his neighbors took responsibility for their own welfare. They did not depend on anyone or anything to “bail them out.” They had prepared before the storm hit by knowing who among their neighbors had generators, chain saws, first-aid skills, and other assets. Together they cleared the neighborhood of lawn furniture and other loose objects that could have caused additional damage, reducing risk for all the property in the area.
Another useful reminder was that everyone in the neighborhood managed to pull through without injury or catastrophe in part because everyone pulled together, sharing food, fuel, tools, labor, and skills. This is the power of neighborhood groups. (See my earlier post, What’s so great about neighborhood groups?) As the article points out, “‘every man for himself’ is a terrible strategy for post-disaster situations.”
Vorderbruggen admits that he actually enjoyed parts of the aftermath, and based on my own experience with extreme storms (stories for another time) I understand his point of view.
What have past emergencies taught you? Leave a comment here.