Just like it's your responsibility to schedule and accomplish your daily duties, it's equally your responsibility to protect your family. The government is there to aid us, but there's no guarantee that they can provide us full protection...in fact, it's certain that they won't.
What is the government's role in natural disasters?
The local, state and federal governments work together in all phases of natural disasters. The emergency response for a natural disaster starts at the local level and can move up to the state or federal level, depending on the magnitude of the disaster.
The duties within the local government:
- Citizen volunteers are encouraged to train to become responders during disasters. Some emergency response trainings include CERT and Citizen Corps, both of which are run by FEMA, but can also include the Red Cross, and non-governmental organizations.
- Determining the threat of a disaster and sending out warnings to the local communities.
- Defining and activating a plan of action.
- Use local resources, including funds, to attend to those in need. Law enforcement officers are sent to protect the public and maintain order. Medical teams are sent to the scene to perform triage and help treat those who need immediate assistance. The fire department responds to all types of emergencies, including fire prevention, suppression, HAZMAT, and emergency medical response.
- Depending on the magnitude, the local government will request assistance to the state, since they cannot request aid from the federal government directly.
The duties within the State government:
- The state will receive requests for aid from the local jurisdictions.
- The state will determine the level of threat and what assistance the local governments need, such as aiding in evacuations, setting up / tearing down evacuation centers, and sending out search and rescue teams.
- The Governor may issue a state of emergency, which sets the State Preparedness Plan in motion, as well as starts the process to request aid at the Federal level.
- The state can request external assistance from CERT, Citizen Corps, the Red Cross, and non-governmental relief organizations. These organizations oftentimes receive and distribute donations, such as food, water, and provisions.
- If the State cannot mitigate the disaster, they request aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If the request is approved, FEMA will step in.
- After a disaster, the state will determine what infrastructure (buildings, bridges, highways, etc) needs to be rebuilt and establish a mitigation plan. Federal funds are often used for at least a portion of the cost of rebuilding.
The duties within the Federal government:
- FEMA steps in when the State has exhausted its resources and the needs of the people have not been fully met. FEMA will assess the situation based on the extent of the damage done to people, homes, businesses, etc.
- The Federal Response Plan will be put into action, determining which Federal resources are required. FEMA may call in government agencies to respond, such as the National Coast Guard which may perform search and rescue missions or act as back-up support for the local law enforcement.
- Once the disaster settles down significantly, FEMA will return the operations to the state or local governments.
- FEMA’s main role during natural disasters is to provide assistance to the state in order to speed up the recovery process. Without their aid, the communities affected would take much longer to recover and rebuild.
- As for personal use, FEMA may provide monetary short-term aid to help cover basic personal provisions post-disaster. Temporary housing assistance may be given to those whose homes were destroyed or deemed uninhabitable. Counseling services are also available to those who seek help for overcoming the trauma associated with the impact of the disaster. A lot of paperwork and auditing is involved in this process, hence why it’s so slow.
The extent to which the government works to prepare for emergencies, deploy assistance, and bring the cities back to normal life is extremely complex. Understanding the duty of each rank allows us to understand that we cannot depend on the government alone to meet all of our personal needs because their efforts need to reach the maximum amount of people. You can find more information here.
Are the news an indicator of difficult times ahead?
The signs are all there! We're headed for turbulent times and the world is doing it's best to sleep through it. Nap time is over, people! Let's review some recent events and what we can do to protect our future.
Today I had it on my heart to shed light on some harsh truth and leave you with a note of encouragement. I know that the world is constantly surprising us with news of hurricanes, fires, and more recently, nuclear threats. I foresee a pattern here and unfortunately there’s not much we as people can do to prevent these things from happening. Wherever you go in the world, there’s going to be a threat…whether it be a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or an accident. We cannot live in a state of constant fear, yet we can’t live in denial that we are exempt from the world’s possible catastrophes. How do we find a happy medium?
Here are four ways that have helped me cope with extremely uncertain and stressful situations. Hopefully, these practices will benefit you in the way they have benefitted me.
1. Let your faith be greater than your fear
First things first. I’m a Christian and I wouldn’t deny my faith in God under any circumstance. I’m not here to push anyone toward any particular belief, but if it suits you to pray to God, I certainly know from personal experience that He will answer you and give you peace. If you’re not into this Christian talk, fast forward to the second coping mechanism I discuss below.
I am certain God has called each of us to do or be something great in this world. (Ephesians 2:10) It’s up to us to pursue these things because that’s the beauty of free will. Before getting too preachy- I want to establish my point. I know bad things happen to good people. We hear this argument all the time. But life is life, and sometimes, good and even great things get taken away from us. Our life depends on the attitude of living up to God’s calling at this point. Are we going to live with resentment and destructive behaviors because we are mad at the things that occurred to us? Or are we going to look for the best things we still have in life (family members, close friends, a roof over our heads, etc) and strive to enjoy them?
The law of attraction is a perfect example of this. According to Wikipedia, the law of attraction is the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. This is Biblical too! The King James Version of Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” What’s my point? Often times we are focused on the negative things in this world that we either get frightened and do things out of concern/fear, or we don’t do anything at all.
Preparing for natural and governmental events to occur should be a given, but since it’s not highlighted in society, the ones that choose to prepare are a minority. Doing nothing puts you at a giant risk and obvious disadvantage. Believing in God will not eliminate all your problems or potential risks, but I’m certain that if you read the Bible, you’ll be sure to pray for wisdom and insight as far as preparing for upcoming tribulations (because it’s going to happen regardless!)
2. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst
Having a preparedness plan is a form of life insurance. You can never be too prepared for anything.
Well, unless you’re this guy...
Emergency preparedness is life-saving in survival scenarios. Remember the mudslides in Montecito, CA a few months ago? I’m certain that fewer people would have died had they known way in advance that their homes were in danger. They were sort of informed, I guess, but they had no idea it would become as devastating as it did. The entire Ventura region was under danger because of the post-Thomas fire terrain. All the evidence was clearly laid out but there was a serious lack of urgency. A huge fire occurred, and shortly after the rain was predicted in the weather forecast. (This should be an immediate red flag warning for a potential disaster, by the way!) When the rain came, it poured. About a half-inch of rain fell in five minutes…that’s a lot of water!! Because the post-fire terrain was unable to absorb it all in such a short time, rivers started forming almost instantly and in minutes, the mudslide occurred. Could it have been prevented? Perhaps not. Could lives have been saved? Absolutely. All it took was a little knowledge on the residents of the threatened area, and hopefully more attention from government authorities and newsagents.
Another example that shook the whole island of Hawaii was the ballistic missile threat. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. The United States has been under constant threat by North Korea’s nuclear agenda. What made this situation unique, was a mass emergency text message that was sent out to all Hawaiian residents to seek immediate shelter. Some people are criticizing the person who sent this but I think it was the best wake-up call Hawaii could have ever received. Of all the articles I read thus far pertaining to this issue, each of them have one thing in common: no one had any idea what to do or where to run to. If the threat would have been accurate, the residents of Hawaii would have had approximately 15 minutes to find appropriate shelter in hopes of survival. In the midst of this chaos, many people panicked. One person went as far as to put his daughter inside a storm drain to protect her! This is wrong on so many levels but it really goes to show that when you're unprepared, you don't think clearly and do stupid stuff instead. (You can watch the video in this article.)
The airport TSA staff didn’t know what the procedure was to shelter travelers, so they waited there in a state of shock and panic. One of the TSA managers told people to pray. You would think that the Department of Homeland Security would have had a little bit of training on this, but apparently not. Another huge problem was that a follow-up message canceling the mishap threat text only took 38 minutes to be sent out! That’s almost an hour. Apparently, it took that long because there was a “flaw in the system.”
My argument here (again) points toward being prepared. Since December, nuclear threats have been ongoing between President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, yet this message showed how unprepared the whole state was! The government has done little to create shelters (even in public schools), or encourage the people to create their own plan or shelter. Yet the news point to these outcomes constantly. If the missile threat would have been real, we would be facing an unbelievable catastrophe at this moment.
Fun Fact: Speaking of the nuclear threat, Minecraft (the video game kids are obsessed over) released a “tour” of American and Russian fallout bunkers. You can check out the three-minute virtual tour here. If these issues are infiltrating the world our kids are involved in, don’t you think adults should be a little more concerned about them too? Just saying!
3. Let past mistakes become lessons for the future
Let these situations become learning lessons for each of us across the world, not just the United States. Don’t depend on the government to rescue you. These are things you have to do for yourself.
If you had 15 minutes to get up and go or take cover somewhere, what would your plan be? If you can’t answer that question, this is your subtle reminder to make a plan!!
It is our obligation to concern ourselves with the potential disasters we may experience wherever we live.
What can we learn from Hawaii’s missile threat?
- Emergencies can happen to any state and any city in America...not to mention the rest of the world.
- Alternative shelter options must be discussed and considered.
- Evacuation options must be laid out and practiced in your home, in schools, and the work environment.
- We must have essential items saved for emergency situations: a bug-out/ bug-in bag, a car emergency kit, a work kit, etc.
- We must not see disasters as a fearful situation that we want to avoid but rather as a learning opportunity to help us thrive in undesirable circumstances.
4. Make preparedness a community affair
Gather a group of friends and discuss potential threats or situations that could happen in your neighborhood and city. I guarantee that every step you make in getting your home ready, will bring you and your family greater peace.
You can help another person today by making them aware of potential risks or threats in your community and encouraging them to create a preparedness plan. This simple act of kindness can save their lives, or at least enhance it, should something occur in the future.
Make a difference in your home and community by sharing your knowledge and skills. [This does not mean you should invite everyone to your house so you can show off your survival bunker and let them see your years-worth of stockpiled food and resources. I don't encourage anyone to do that. However, a little awareness and preparedness enthusiasm shared with your neighbors can help someone who doesn't know where to start.]
Make preparedness fun and include your children and relatives in the process!
Still not convinced?
Look at it this way: If your car's "check engine" light came on, wouldn't you take it to a mechanic and get the problem fixed? How is protecting your home or family any different?
What you have done this year to become better prepared? What skills are you interested in learning? I would love to hear from you. Let me a comment below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and has since been improved and updated.
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