Reach out to your neighbor about disaster preparedness

Posted on October 28, 2010 by Veronica Taylor

Sometimes the idea of getting an entire neighborhood organized around a topic or issue seems overwhelming, and too much of a task to take on.

So, what if we each reached out to just one neighbor?  Is there an older person or couple in your neighborhood who needs some extra arms and legs occasionally?  Is there a single parent with an overloaded schedule?  Here are opportunities for each of us to be great neighbors, particularly in helping others be prepared for disasters.

As we draw near to the end of this hurricane season, it might be a convenient time to review our own disaster plans – plans that we haven’t had to activate this year (so far!).  With decreasing threats of hurricanes as we move toward winter, it might be useful to look again at our own disaster kits and re-stock, or add items that are missing.  We could also reach out to that older neighbor or that single parent and offer to help.

I plan to talk with a couple of my neighbors to identify anyone in our community who needs some extra help.  We could use this quiet time to put together a disaster kit for neighbors who didn’t get to this project this year.  Maybe it’s someone who no longer drives and cannot easily get to a store to buy the makings of a disaster supply kit.  Maybe it’s a single parent who has had to worry about finding the money for school clothes and supplies, instead of having a disaster kit prepared.

Helping a neighbor with the gift of a disaster preparedness kit means that neighbor has the basics for disaster preparedness not just for this year, but going forward.  Next spring, as we prepare for the 2011 hurricane season, that neighbor will be in much better shape than in previous years, thanks to your gift.  You can stay in touch with that neighbor, too, by helping to update that kit every year, when you do your own preparation.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, after a little outreach, my entire neighborhood becomes more attuned to working together to be ready for any disaster.  And, as I’ve learned from experienced community leaders like Paul Hersey, Dr. Harry Shannon, and Steve Riddle (see last week’s blog on Neighborhood Emergency Operations Teams) there are many additional benefits that come from bringing neighborhoods together.

I heard a comment from a prominent community leader not long ago who said he lived in an unfriendly neighborhood.  People don’t talk with each other, don’t seem to interact at all.  I remember when I heard this comment that my thought was, “Maybe someone needs to take the first step and reach out to just one neighbor.”  If you find that one of your neighbors could use a little extra help, a disaster preparedness kit might be a good opening form of outreach.

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