A community preparedness plan is designed to help residents develop a disaster plan that covers emergency contacts, predetermined meeting places, safe storage for things like food and water, and having a disaster kit ready to go. Without a community natural disaster recovery plan in place, vulnerable people in your community could be at risk of being overlooked, which means they’re also likely to be in more danger; minimal efforts might be made when it comes to rescuing them.
Additionally, without proper planning, homeless individuals are likely to experience more significant losses than other families, which could disrupt their recovery process. Some homeless people, for example, might suffer from trauma, while others might struggle with mental health issues. This means that if a disaster shelter isn’t prepared to deal with these individuals who are in distress, their natural reaction could be to simply turn these people away.
Not only will this make things worse for the homeless individual, but it can also cause the untrained homeless shelter employee or volunteer to be traumatized. As a result, the shelter might experience more chaos. Fortunately, there are ways community members can help, and it starts with proper planning.
Find Out What Disaster Plans Have Already Been Developed:
The last thing you’d want to do for your community is developing a disaster recovery plan that someone else already created. That said, it’s safe to assume that some disaster planning has taken place in your community before you took over the task. So, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, you can find out who was involved and what they accomplished.
If the task was complete, ask if homeless and vulnerable people were accommodated for in this plan. Did anyone contact other nearby shelters? Does the plan address ways to deal with special circumstances like mental health issues and how to explain illnesses like cancer to individuals? Don’t lose hope if these things aren’t addressed in the plan. Here’s your chance to make that happen.
By addressing these problems, you’ll have a better understanding of your community’s homeless and vulnerable population. The one problem volunteers could face, however, is finding nearby resources. So, make sure you can identify the person responsible for disaster planning in your jurisdiction.
Establish a Support Group:
When it comes to disaster planning, no individual has all the knowledge needed to successfully identify issues and solutions. With that in mind, it’s important for you to build a network of people who you know have a deep understanding of your neighborhood and its residents. All communities, for instance, have what’s called a “continuum of care” (CoC) organization.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the CoC “is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals.” In other words, the organization is designed to work to end homelessness.
So, if you’re able to find your community CoC leader, work with them and let them know about your disaster preparedness plans. You can also get them involved in the development stages as well. That way, you gain their partnership to improve your community’s preparedness plan.
Perhaps the biggest issues members might face has to deal with is time management. To put it in a different way, members who are heavily involved in their community are usually pressed for time and resources.
This means that as you work to assemble your team, you’ll want to communicate the urgency of effective disaster management strategies and the commitment of using their time wisely. Make sure you’re clear about the challenges presented by homelessness and recovery planning.
You should also let each member know what their roles are and tell them how each position contributes to the community. As a final point, consider hosting meetings at least once a month so you can see everyone’s progress and address issues that come up.
Research the Homeless Population in Your Community:
When it comes to gathering data, perhaps the easiest way to do so is by reviewing the information provided by organizations. This will help you get a clear picture of the number of homeless people in your community, their locations, and some of the illnesses reported by medical professionals thus far.
Why is this important?
Well, by conducting this type of research in your community, you and your team will have an increased knowledge of the homeless population — knowledge that includes the causes of long-term unemployment, substance abuse victims, and other information that will help you design the best recovery plan for your area. Without this knowledge being present, you run the risk of leaving vulnerable people out and possibly putting them in even more danger.
Some common problem community members might run into when it comes to gathering data is that not all information found will be useful. If, for example, the homeless population near you suffers from specific illnesses like glaucoma – the leading preventable cause of blindness in the U.S. — data may only show higher rates of blindness. Even if the report does specifically label glaucoma as the source of blindness, then chances are the report won’t address the age group associated with the condition.
Therefore, it might be necessary for you to contact the service providers and other experts to gather more information about issues that homeless people face in your community. As you work to uncover more and more data, be sure to consult local homelessness data experts to get the most crucial statistics needed for your recovery plan.
This article was written by Herman Davis for Prepper’s Will
Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything important? What are some other members of the community can help the vulnerable population survive a disaster? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Davis enjoys exploring the outdoors. If you can’t find him online, you might be able to catch him at the gym or watching sports (Go Sun Devils!). Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!