Do You Have An Emergency Plan When Disaster Strikes?

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-09-2818

Every year, we hear about yet another place that has suffered some kind of disaster or another: from terrorist attacks to tornadoes, wild hurricanes and earthquakes, we face the wrath of both nature and man, and accept this as part of our existence. For me, I worry about dry summers and the possibility of wildfires in the region where I live. I’ve put together a list of fire safety tips for those of us who are vulnerable to fires or who just want to stay safe. And for an even bigger list on how to get ready for a disaster, here’s what FEMA says about planning for emergencies.

I was compelled to write this post because over the last week, I was reminded once more of just how ruthless Mother Nature can get, when she hit close to home for me. You see, my roots are in Manila, Philippines, where many of my family and friends live (and a place I often visit), and last week, the region experienced a strong rain (typhoon Ondoy/Ketsana) and flash floods the likes it’s never seen before (or I’ve seen before). The country is used to this kind of weather but this was just unbelievable. When the floods took over, the place was 80% underwater, much like how it happened in New Orleans some years ago. I’ve been through some bad floods before, but this is just crazy:

Some of these videos are surreal and frightening: they remind me of how I felt when watching Hurricane Katrina barrel down upon the Gulf coast and when I viewed the destruction of Thailand’s huge tsunami in the news (or even when I read about the floods in Georgia recently). Some people I know are still missing their loved ones; with communication cut off in certain places, it’s hard to know what’s going on over there.

Typhoon Ketsana/Ondoy

What About An Emergency Plan?

The tough thing is that in a developing country, an emergency plan isn’t much of a priority. Most people don’t even have personal property insurance to cover losses — it’s all about surviving day to day, with many living a hand-to-mouth existence. Infrastructure is weak, which has certainly contributed to the severity of the floods that Manila has experienced. So what can we do in this kind of situation?

Some disasters are so far-reaching that it’s hard to prepare for them. And at other times, your emergency plan is something you aren’t really able to put into action because it can be too late. I believe that no matter how prepared we are, when a calamity of massive proportions enters the picture, all bets are off. If we survive the disaster, then we have to face the aftermath and that’s when most of the world hopes that when it happens to them, that aid, government assistance and donations can help with rescue and relief efforts.

For help or donations, you can visit the Philippine National Red Cross.

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin@OutOfYourRut September 28, 2009 at 6:15 pm

One of the problems with emergency planning is knowing which emergency to plan for. There are so many possibilities.

The other is that there are certain disasters that are so comprehensive, like hurricanes, that planning can be an effort in futility. The size and scope of the disaster is a huge part of it, and we can never know that until it actually happens.

Probably the best we can ever do is very loose and flexible planning, knowing we can never prepare for it all. I’m all for that, as long as we don’t get too caught up in thinking we can make ourselves immune to what ever happens. There are always variables that can lay waste to the best plans.

Dape September 29, 2009 at 12:55 am

Emergency planning for disasters is really a hard one to comprehend; it’s something that happens to other people. Living in the UK we are quite lucky with natural disasters apart from floods and minor earth quakes and we see little to what some people of the world endure. Apart from all the necessary insurances that people take out I place my life in the hands of God.

Allen September 29, 2009 at 4:41 am

Totally i agree with you, it is very thinkable question. We should focus more on it, but it has a lots of problems like, where would be the disaster, when, which type disaster will be.

kosmo @ The Casual Observer September 29, 2009 at 6:22 am

In a span of about 26 months, I experienced:

– A tornado that ripped through the city I live in, coming about a block from my house.
– An earthquake that woke me up in the middle of the night during a business trip to ILLINOIS. (OK, it wasn’t a quake by Cali standards, but still weird).
– Absolutely devastating floods that hits the city where I live and the city where I work (30 miles away). Two different rivers – there was a late spring thaw coupled with record spring rainfalls – the state had lots of flooding, but these two cities got the worst of it. Luckily, my family was not affected. I did have to work from home for about a week – as the interstate between the two cities was shut down …

A lot of people learned the value of flood insurance after the floods.

One other tip regard floods – get out while you can. Quite a few people tried to wait out the flooding and had to be rescued from their rooftops in boats.

Craig September 29, 2009 at 7:35 am

Other than insurance I don’t have a specific emergency plan for the extreme disasters in life. A small emergency fund for small ticket items but disasters like you mention it’s difficult to have a plan for something so big and unusual.

Stephanie September 29, 2009 at 8:12 am

I have a bit of an emergency plan, but not much of one. Its kinda pathetic actually. I agree with craig that it’s hard to plan for something so unusual.

Bargain Babe September 29, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I had an emergency plan when I was living in NY after 9/11. My husband and I came up with it after we realized we would have no way to get in touch if an even bigger disaster stuck Manhattan. Without cell phone and email (we had no land line), how would we get in touch with each other?

Our plan was we would meet at the southwest corner of Central Park, right on Columbus Circle where there is a small magazine and candy stand. Looking back I see how simplistic this is, but it provided us a great deal of comfort at the time.

As far as putting together an emergency kit, mine is still in progress! I’m too frugal to buy a pre-made kit because I think it will be cheaper to buy the items a la carte. But perhaps just *having* the kit is worth the extra cost. Or, I could put it on my Christmas list. Ha!

Manshu September 29, 2009 at 7:03 pm

I hope all your friends and family members are safe. God bless.

Teejay September 29, 2009 at 11:58 pm

It was fortunate for me to be living at Cavite. My family was caught up in the flood. They don’t have electricity, drinking water and clothes.

See, they also have a car rental business and all the cars and vans are now going to be towed to the mechanic. The good thing is that the insurance covers ‘acts of God’ emergencies.

Mon September 30, 2009 at 12:33 am

Nice post Kabayan!

The worst is not yet over here because there’s 1 more storm coming tomorrow and all of us are hoping that it will change directions or lose momentum.

Goran Web Design October 1, 2009 at 4:10 am

Mother Nature can be very fierce, and being aware of the possibilities of floods and tsunamis is the first important step towards planning for emergencies. People are often unaware of the flood risks and the like of where their houses have been built. Whether they’ll be able to afford moving to the high ground is another issue altogether.

Millionaire Acts October 1, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Our house was included in one of the deeply affected areas of this typhoon. We already evacuated our house and temporarily renting a condo for us to stay. Our house is still filled with knee-deep flood. All of us here in the Philippines is hoping that the upcoming typhoon “Pepeng” won’t hit us hard given our situation. The weather forecasters say that it would arrive on land here tomorrow, Saturday.

Ruri @ Free article directory October 2, 2009 at 3:20 am

Don’t forget also the worst disaster in this century. Tsunami that wipe out Aceh in Indonesia that killed almost 22.000 people and right now Indonesia hit with another earthquake 3 times (2 times in Minang and 1 times in Jambi) that currently known already killed 400 people. Others still missing.

escapesomewhere October 3, 2009 at 5:47 pm

After 9/11 I started stashing a small amount of cash in weird places (ie a burglar would spend hours trying to find it and I would not happen to spend it randomly) that way if I need to get out of town quick (and credit was not working) I would always have 50-70 bucks. I like the idea of having a meeting place. I should do that.

escapesomewhere October 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

OK after more thought should the meeting place be outside the city or inside. If all hell is breaking loose it would seem best to get slightly outside the city first to avoid one’s significant other standing there with looters and muggers waiting for me to show up.

Joomla Web Developer November 26, 2009 at 8:42 am

There really is no plan depending on the extent of the disaster. I was watching a documentary for Tokyo Japan and although they try to plan…the shelters just won’t be able to handle the homeless…sad but that’s life!

wesley January 23, 2010 at 8:15 am

As I live in Switzerland, our insurance is really good, so we are covered most of the time. And I believe there aren’t as many dangers here, like there are in other countries.

build your own hovercraft September 21, 2010 at 10:57 am

Disasters are disasters. That is why that called disasters. It happens so suddenly then you can’t do too much, but we can take preventive action. For rescue operation we can use hovercrafts very effectively. Hovecraft have capability to run in water which has obstacles.

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