Emergency Preparedness a Necessity for All Americans
Growing up in North Carolina, hurricanes were a fact of life—complete with their own season that runs straight into the start of basketball season (the most important season of the year to most folks back home, myself included). Dealing with downed power lines and sky-high September temperatures was just another day.
Fortunately, my family, friends and neighbors, time and again, were kept safe by thoughtful planning before every hurricane season. Simple steps—like choosing a meeting point if separated, buying Pop-Tarts (an item otherwise banned in my house), and bringing outdoor furniture out of the way of winds—kept us safe, even in the face of terrible storms.
Disaster can strike at any time, as this weekend’s tornadoes in Oklahoma reminded us all too well. When disasters strike, it is of the utmost importance that all members of our community are kept safe. People with disabilities can be particularly at risk during and after disasters, as critical services can be compromised. So as communities across the United States prepare for the 2012 hurricane season, we must all work to include people with disabilities in our planning. We must all remember what is taught in Pirkei Avot, “Do not separate yourself from the community,” meaning we cannot allow others to be cut off as well.
Synagogues and Jewish community centers can provide great focal points for organizing disaster preparation and response efforts. While we here at the RAC are preparing our own resources (look for these on RACblog soon), New York Disaster Interfaith Services has many excellent resources to help your congregation and community prepare for emergencies (using the above link, click on the box that says “training”).