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How Government Responds to Disasters

22 Nov

If we can learn one thing from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is that an effective government response to a disaster is not guaranteed. Authorities may not take action quickly enough or effectively enough to help average people.

This means that citizens will have to take some responsibility for their safety and survival. An example of the kinds of things citizens may have to do for themselves is to find their own way out of a disaster area. People may also have to provide their own food and water for some time after a disaster.

The best advice to average people in a major disaster area would be to get out and get out fast. In particular families with children, the elderly and those with health problems should leave as soon as they can. This means that it might be a good idea for such people to leave an area before a hurricane and stay away until they know it is safe to return.

Another good piece of advice would be to be willing to pitch into help. For example if you are in a position to help others get out of a disaster area do so. If you have food or water be willing to share it.

Also be willing to do things that you might not normally be willing to do. For example you may have to take part in rescue efforts, firefighting or caring for injured people after a disaster. Authorities could be stretched thin and unable to help each other. This means citizens will have to help their neighbors.

During Katrina many people were rescued because private individuals came into the city with boats and helped people get out. Many others were helped by private and religious charities that came in and took the place of government.

A final piece of advice would be to look for alternatives to government in the aftermath of a disaster. If you need food try going to a church or to a private store like a Wal-Mart or a supermarket. Many private store managers handed out food and other goods to citizens after Katrina.

If government comes to help, accept its’ help but be prepared for government services to be limited after a disaster.


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