There’s no going around the simple fact that disaster can strike at any moment. In the wake of wildfires and violent weather, the West Coast of the United States has borne the brunt of Nature’s fury. As recovery and rebuilding efforts are underway, it is important to take stock of what has happened–and how we as a nation can be better prepared to respond to the disaster. Here are a few key takeaways from West Coast disaster relief efforts.
Shelter: The Camp Fire of 2018 has demonstrated how quickly people can lose their homes and livelihoods to wildfires. Many people were displaced throughout Butte County, and it will take time before communities can rebuild completely. Disaster relief efforts need to take into account displacement and homelessness by setting up shelters, which must also include sources of freshwater and food.
Water: The West Coast has distinct challenges with water conservation and management–which are exacerbated further by a natural disaster. As such, it is important to spread community awareness about water usage and availability. Disaster relief organizations must also be prepared and work with the local governments to coordinate an effective response strategy.
Food: Food that has been exposed to fire can be rendered unsafe due to three factors: heat from the fire, smoke, and firefighting chemicals. Securing a reliable food source in the wake of a wildfire poses distinct challenges, which is why individuals and government agencies must prepare accordingly. Likewise, disaster relief teams should be prepared to implement programs that will respond to the nutritional needs of a displaced population.
It is never a comfortable prospect to think about the worst-case scenario. However, with good planning and preparation, an effective disaster response effort can mitigate further suffering and loss of life. It is important to learn from the response efforts of the past to secure a better future.