The best way to respond effectively to a disaster is to prepare thoroughly beforehand. And while the immediate emergency response is what often grabs the headlines after a hurricane, most of the hard work happens long before the disaster, and out of the public eye.
A key element of AmeriCares disaster preparedness strategy is to work with partners to pre-position supplies in hurricane-prone areas, so that relief supplies are quickly available to help survivors in the aftermath. Our 30 years of experience in disaster response has given us a good understanding of the items most crucial during different phases of response and recovery.
With that knowledge, we’re constantly building and refining our emergency response pharmacy — medicines, medical supplies and other disaster response items donated by our long-standing corporate partners and stored in Stamford, CT, Amsterdam, Holland and other AmeriCares warehouses. One such partner, AstraZeneca, collaborated with AmeriCares in support of our 2005 Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, and has since supported many disaster responses, including our recent emergency shipment to help people affected by Tropical Storm Isaac and survivors of the June, 2012 storms in Virginia.
“Based on our experience, we know that displaced families are often in desperate need of basic personal care items.”
To gain an even better understanding of emergency response needs, our team recently surveyed 300 current and potential response partners — free clinics, community health centers, public health organizations, and other organizations — collecting information that will help us further refine our preparedness strategy.
In 2012, we launched a new initiative to procure and pre-position emergency family kits in our Stamford warehouse for distribution during our disaster response here in the U.S. We prepared enough kits – including first aid, personal care, hygiene and cleaning supplies — to help 2,500 families displaced by disaster. Based on our experience and the results of our survey, we know that displaced families are often in desperate need of basic personal care items, particularly if they are staying in public shelter, a hotel, or doubling up at a friend’s home.
This year, we are also expanding our network of response partners in the United States. During our recent storm response, partners such as West Virginia Health Right clinic were critical in identifying needs and distributing aid in hard-hit communities. Expanding our network helps us can respond more effectively and coordinate efficiently with other organizations—no matter where in the country the disaster occurs.