What a time we've had here in Southeast Texas the last couple of weeks. Ahead of Hurricane Ike over 2 million people evacuated. After Ike over 2 Million were without power. In fact as of this morning almost 3 weeks later about 35,000 customers are still without electric power. According to a figure I saw the other day about 400 people are still unaccounted for.
I have also observed several things to take note of for the future as my community and I have gone through this.
1) Help never comes fast enough when you're the one hurting. When its your house thats gone, when your the one without electricity, or food etc. Things never happen fast enough. Its easy to get impatient in such times, and we as responders must learn that a lot of what we here is frustration at the situation being vented towards us, and not at us as specicif individuals.
2) With schools canceling classes, and playing outside not always safe the children in affected areas get stir crazy real fast. As people prepare their "hurricane kits" more attention needs to be payed to including more age appropriate, non electrical ways to keep our youth occupied.
3) The "little" emergencies still happen ! Even as we deal with the big "national disaster" we responders especially must not loose focus on the kind of emergencies we deal with every day. People still have heart attacks, traffic accidents still happen. In fact some things like fires may even spike a bit Yet we stand ready to handle it all.
4) Disaster Mental Health, Critical Incident Stress Management etc. are still not as integrated into our response efforts as they should be. My own research shows that as many as 1 in 4 firefighters in our country have no access to chaplain services at all. The types of assistance I'm talking about here goes beyond core chaplaincy services, and is in even more short supply.
there are other things that could be done and I may cover more of them in future articles. After all the recovery here will take months or years. We're lucky and blessed things we;ren't even worse. I'm sure that there ideas and observations that I haven't even come accross yet !