It may take from five days up to a few weeks until local stores and companies open their doors for business after a major disaster. Some of these businesses may never reopen their doors and the entire neighborhood will suffer. The road to recovery may be difficult after a disaster and even though you’ve prepped properly, one question remains: what about the others?
Some preppers may argue that is not their job to save everyone and that might be true. However, you can’t close your eyes and ignore those you have known all your life. Neighbors and friends may not be as prepared as you and I guarantee it will be heart-breaking decision turning them away when they come knocking for help.
If you’re involved in your hometown’s activities and if you know the people well there is something you can do to help make the recovery process easier. It all starts with informing the people and planning together a recovery plan. They will understand that every minute the doors of local businesses are no open, it will have dire consequences for the entire hometown. When the power goes out, or a storm keeps the sick folks at home, you can’t abandon them and simply forget about their existence.
Just as in the case with your family, a little planning and forethought in times of calm can make a lot of difference when disaster strikes and the entire hometown is affected.
The road to recovery after a disaster
In a time when public attention is concentrated on political scandals and what not, we seem to have forgotten that our country has a long history of natural disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and blizzards are more common and have increased in intensity. Puerto Rico was a clear example of how much time it takes to get everything back up and running, and how difficult it is without government help.
While websites are teaching your family about emergency preparedness and how to make checklists and planning resources to help prioritize needs, you need to get more involved in how your community functions.
I seriously doubt that all the people from your hometown know what to do when a natural disaster strikes. However, they should understand that the possibility of an ice storm or hurricane killing power and other services for more than a week is not unprecedented. Under those circumstances, having a collective plan to notify everyone about how the situation is developing and get information to those vulnerable can make sense out of chaos. Here are a few preventive actions that your hometown can take:
Recovery planning for the community:
People should have a disaster-recovery kit
People should be informed about the importance of a disaster-recovery kit and how to make one. Such kit should set aside critical materials needed in a crisis. It should contain basic tools, spare parts for the machines people depend on and backups of all their documents and computer data. All these are necessary to restore a household or business once the crisis is over.
Draw up a disaster communication plan
People should identify vulnerable areas in their hometown and inform people about the vulnerabilities in phone or internet services. There should be an updated emergency contact list for essential personnel such as doctors and law enforcement. Everyone that can give a helping hand to restore the hometown as it was before the disaster should be on that list. The road to recovery starts within the community.
Identify critical business functions
This goes hand in hand with establishing priorities for resources. The city council should establish which aspect of a business can be temporarily suspended to sustain another. Let’s say the hospital runs out of fuel for their generators, the remaining fuel from gas stations or other businesses (farms, local stores, etc.) should be used to keep the hospital operational. Rather than people lining up to the local gas station to get the remaining fuel, they should go to the nearest town and resupply there.
Related article: America’s Disaster Zones – Are You Living In Harm’s Way?
Establish an evacuation plan
People should be informed about the importance of a bug out bag and how it can save their lives during an evacuation. It will help facilitate short notice travel and it will help recovery if the people brought everything of value with them (especially important documents). Also, people should be informed about the main evacuation routes or meeting points, but also about the secondary routes to avoid traffic jams.
Collaborate with service providers
The city council should contact service providers to establish backup vendors in case of localized infrastructure failure. This should be done after a detailed risk assessment is performed to establish the possible threats to households and local small businesses.
Establish a hunkering down plan
Service employees might be trapped on the business premises and they need to have an adequate survival plan and disaster kit. The same goes for those who can’t evacuate and plans should be made to assure their transportation or provide them with everything needed to survive.
Suggested reading: How To Bug-in And Survive
Establish a weather response plan
A winter weather plan, for example, should consider such possibilities as burst pipes, heating failure or icy roads. On the other hand, a tornado response plan should designate shelter areas and implement protocols for responses to watches and warnings. The time to figure such things out is now when everything is peaceful and calm.
Conduct realist exercises with critical personnel
Real-world scenarios should be tested and based on the results the disaster recovery plan should be tweaked. Nominate facilitators and set time limits and expectations for everyone. Some are leaders while others are followers. There should always be someone in charge to designate a responsible person to execute actions in certain areas of the hometown.
Take action now
If you are dedicated to saving others besides your family, you should have gatherings with people from your town and discuss together how to prepare better. Cover topics such as family disaster preparation, how to protect a business from the effects of a natural disaster. Also about how to keep your neighborhood safe from infrastructure failures or civil unrest. As with most things, preparation is key, but it requires an entire community to save the town.
The behavior of many, which is often said to be a normalcy bias, makes the rest of us look like nut-jobs and paranoid people. However, assuming that a disaster won’t happen in our living area, in our lifetime, is pure denial and it can be dangerous behavior. People chose not to act because they believe that a disaster won’t happen to them and that there will always be someone out there looking out for us. Rather than living in denial, we should accept times for what they are and work together to save our community and build a plan for recovery when SHTF.