Disasters Scar America; Response and Recovery Under Way

After the recent devastating storms, flooding, tornadoes and fires, America is reeling from mass devastation, including property and infrastructure destruction and loss of life. The death toll from last week’s massive tornado strike has topped 300 individuals in seven states. And with the National Weather Service predicting that more thunderstorms and fires will hit soon, many wonder if there is any real defense against Mother Nature.

In a recent www.examiner.com article by Gloria Blakely, the best defense to potential disaster may be simple, but is not always followed: have a plan and readily accessible emergency supplies. Also, keep up to date on emergency news and evacuate the area when advised.

According to a www.therecord.com article, it’s vital to have an emergency toolkit, a meeting plan, and an out-of-town emergency contact.

“In the event that there is a larger emergency in your community, there is a chance you’ll have to evacuate,” said Sarah Howe, a public education officer with Emergency Management Ontario, as quoted in the article. “We recommend two meeting places, one just outside your home and … one outside your immediate area.” Howe recommended that individuals have enough supplies for at least 72 hours.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management reminds residents to be safe during clean up and recovery efforts in the wake of severe storms as injuries can happen when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings. Injuries commonly occur after an incident from falling objects.

“Because tornadoes often damage power lines, gas lines or electrical systems, there is a risk of fire, electrocution or explosion,” according to a www.rockbridgeweekly.com article. “Protecting yourself and your family requires promptly treating any injuries suffered during the storm and using care to avoid further hazards.”

Emergency Operations

For those affected by the recent high winds, hail, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms, a range of federal grants and loans, as well as free services, are available. According to Blakely, property lost during the Alabama tornadoes, if not covered by insurance and charitable aid, may be covered up to 75% of eligible costs by FEMA — with the state covering the remaining amount.

For businesses, loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are available up to $2 million for any portion of business property not compensated by insurance. And land and aqua-farmers and ranchers may receive loans up to $500,000.

Also be on the lookout for major disaster assistance in the form of free legal services and crisis counseling.

For more information about disaster preparedness and recovery resources, read the full article: http://www.examiner.com/charity-in-philadelphia/disaster-scars-america-response-and-recovery-under-way

Here are some good tips specific to tornado preparedness:http://www.rockbridgeweekly.com/rw_article.php?ndx=20478

And for additional preparedness information, check out this article:http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/524130--prepared-for-the-worst