As hurricane season is rapidly approaching, I am disappointed to learn that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it will not meet the June 1st deadline to implement a new national response plan. The national response plan is our guidelines and procedures for handling natural disasters. Lack of awareness and preparedness during natural disasters exacerbate an already precarious situation.
On the heels of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA being ill-prepared for the 2007 hurricane season, is unacceptable and a dangerous.
What I saw in Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005 was a complete meltdown of the Federal Government, and in particular, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If a direct hurricane strike is one of the top 3 catastrophic scenarios facing our country, why does FEMA need more time to develop a plan that should have been developed a long time ago? For over a year and half I have been asking FEMA the same question over and over again, but I haven’t heard a response.
The people of this country are tired of excuses and want to see results. Hard-working Americans are not allowed to miss deadlines at their place of work without threat of dismissal. Why should we let the federal government miss a deadline for an important policy such as the natural response plan?
I encourage each of you to have a plan in place in case of a hurricane. FloridaDisaster.org is a great resource for you and your family. It leads you through an interactive site that helps you develop your own specific disaster plan. The hard lesson learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is that preparedness can make the difference and families must be prepared on their own.
A few tips from the Florida Division of Emergency Management:
- Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
- Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet (Rally Points); including a child's school, a neighbor or a public place.
- Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact. Have at least 2 ways of contact; e-mail, phone, etc.
- Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
- Check your insurance coverage - flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a DISASTER SUPPLY KIT.
- Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.