Friday, September 27, 2013

National Preparedness Month - COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS

Individuals can make a difference in their own community but not everyone has bought into preparedness.  Research on personal preparedness indicates that individuals who believe they are prepared for disasters often are not as prepared as they think.  In addition, some admit they do not plan to prepare at all. 
The challenge: Maximizing awareness and encouraging participation in disaster preparedness activities to affect change at the community level.
Our nation’s emergency managers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMT/paramedics, and other emergency responders do an incredible job of keeping us safe, but they cannot do it alone. We must all embrace our personal responsibility to be prepared – in doing so; we contribute to the safety and security of our communities as well.

Getting Started

While no two projects will be the same, successful projects will share a few common practices. We encourage you to incorporate the following elements into your service project:
  • Create a team with your friends and neighbors to share the effort;
  • Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals;
  • Celebrate your successes together.
The Challenge: Many community-based organizations do not have enough capacity to manage a large number of volunteers, so they need you to organize yourself in coordination with them.  This tool kit is designed to either help you organize a group and be a positive addition to a community-based organization, or, if such an organization does not exist, to be a well-organized independently-run group that fills a gap in the community.
A step-by-step guide to getting started and executing service activities follows.  Please let us know how your project goes and what you learn by telling your story at


Check out which organizations are already helping in your area.  Many have identified community needs and built the expertise to provide solutions, and there may already be an active volunteer group that you could join.  Here are several ways to identify local groups and volunteer opportunities:


Teams can help share the work, motivate members, and hold each other accountable.  Teams build community.  Ask your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and faith group members to serve with you.


Set a service goal and hold yourself accountable.  Find out what your partner organization needs and then work to fill that need.  For example, commit as individuals and as a team to helping at least three people who may need additional assistance in preparing for emergencies (including the frail, elderly, individuals with disabilities, and others with special needs). Set your goals high to stretch yourself.  Then keep track of how you are doing and designate someone to be responsible for updating the group on how you are progressing toward your goals.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can do when you commit, focus, and follow through.


The key to effective service is planning.  Organize your materials, make confirmation calls, and, if you have time, read supplemental materials before you volunteer.


Your team members, the community, and the President want to know about your successes and hear your stories.  Share your accomplishments by reporting your results. We will highlight the best stories throughout the year. Tell us about your successes and what you have learned, or just tell your story of service at
and now, a brief excerpt

Annie was standing at the end of a long hallway. A group of people were walking towards her. She noticed tear streaked faces and vacant eyes that had already seen too much. One woman was holding a toddler to her chest; both of them were soaked through and shivering. A young girl was holding a calico cat; the cat clung to her, and both of them looked scared. Arms around the furry feline, paws around the little girl’s neck, both of them looked like all they had in the world was each other. Silent tears were rolling down the girl’s cheeks.

The destination for the mass of bedraggled storm victims was a rickety table. Two women sat there asking gentle questions and taking names. As the evacuees signed in they were ushered into the room behind the table. A man brought in a heavy wool blanket and wrapped the woman and toddler in it. Through the tears and anxious whispers Annie heard the words rain, tornadoes and death. The shocked expressions and quivering voices bore testimony to the fierce winds of the monsters that left devastation in their path.

Looking around the room now teeming with both the rescued and the rescuers, Annie saw trophies and photos of uniformed men and women marching next to fire trucks and ambulances. The local fire department opened its doors as a shelter for the survivors of the storm. Even the heroes who were doling out blankets, hot coffee and comfort looked scared and overwhelmed. Every now and then she saw a shelter worker offer a consoling and light touch on the arm, a hug, a shoulder – human touches that were beyond her ability. Annie wondered why she was there, what she could do to help them.

The evacuees clung to family members and friends who walked in with them. She heard people crying as they spoke about homes that collapsed around them. A few people stood and shouted random names with passionate pleas for any information. A shelter volunteer began handing out dry clothes for people who needed, others got blankets and toiletries, a few of the very young were given stuffed animals and toy trucks. A non-stop stream of coffee, juice boxes and cookies were offered all around. People sat at tables clutching their new possessions, an armful of material things that represented all they owned.

No one saw her there, no one could take comfort from her touch, and no one could hear her words of encouragement.

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