Emergency Responders – What Can We Expect When Disaster Strikes?

What can we expect from public officials and emergency responders in the aftermath of a disaster? I spoke to Janet Liebsch about that a few months ago, and, because it’s such an important topic, this week on DestinySurvival Radio I’m replaying the conversation she and I had.

In our original conversation, which you can read about here, Janet and I spoke about two things. The Shakeout earthquake drill scheduled to happen last October and what we can expect from emergency responders in the aftermath of a disaster. We spent the bulk of our time talking about that second subject, and that’s what I want to focus on today..

Not that earthquake preparedness isn’t important. It is. But I wanted to narrow things down for this week’s program and be sure you and I have a handle on how things might go in the wake of a catastrophe.

When might first responders come to our aid? Could martial law be put into place? I hope what follows will put some worries and fears to rest while helping you know better how to prepare.

 

My Informative Guest

Janet Liebsch is co-founder of FedHealth and co-author of IT’S A DISASTER! and what are YOU gonna do about it? She’s also Executive Vice-President and Disaster Specialist for the U.S. First Responders Association, and is the Arizona state moderator on American Preppers Network.

 

Order Out of Chaos

Many in the general population expect to see FEMA come to the rescue in the wake of a disaster, such as when there’s an earthquake, hurricane, flood, and the like. On the other hand, I’ve heard of some in the prepper community say, “Don’t need ’em. Don’t want ’em.” Does that ring a bell?

But should we expect chaos? Martial law?

Who can say for sure? Much depends on the nature and scope of the disaster. And, while FEMA has been roundly criticized for not arriving on the scene in a timely manner, would you believe their actions are by design?

As Janet explained, there’s a structured system or chain of command which keeps FEMA at a distance. If local First Responders become overwhelmed, the state governor’s next step is to ask for assistance from the federal government. There has to be a reason for a state of emergency to be declared.

You could consider this to be a safeguard mechanism. FEMA can’t just come in on their own. In fact, their hands could be tied up in red tape, making timely assistance difficult. Janet went into some detail in our conversation on how all of this works.

The bottom line is that you and I must be prepared to ride out what could be a long wait before outside help comes along. That’s partly because one of the first things officials concentrate on when a disaster happens is restoration of infrastructure–roads, bridges, buildings, etc.

Fortunately, there’s National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD). It consists of nonprofit groups, churches and faith based organizations, and people in local communities who know how to coordinate resources and get them where they need to be.

Meanwhile, FEMA continues to evaluate how to coordinate the private sector and public sector to function efficiently once a disaster happens. They have much to consider. Often the private sector is quicker at getting supplies and help to where they’re needed.

But you and I should be as prepared as we can be, and that involves more than storage food, blankets, flashlights and the like. For example, you and I would do well to make insurance a key part of our prepping strategy. How well are you or your business insured with coverage to help out with specific natural disasters?

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Stringent rules pertaining to federal relief funds are in place. Much of those funds may not come as grants, but as loans, which have to be paid back. These funds aren’t designed to make you whole or put everything like it was before. A staggering number of businesses never reopen after disasters.

 

Our Response to the Responders

Janet was quick to make the point that First Responders in our local communities are looking out for their community first. If you and I have questions about what will happen in a crisis, she recommends we get to know our local firemen, police, etc. We may find they don’t want federal intervention or martial law any more than you and I do.

In his book, Urban Emergency Survival Plan, Jim Cobb also recommends finding out what local officials have planned when disaster strikes. In so doing, we can better define our own preparedness plans.

 

Find Out More

Hear my Conversation with Janet Liebsch by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for February 26, 2015. (Right click to download.) Also, check out the additional resources listed below.

If you have any thoughts on what you’ve read here or heard in this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, feel free to leave a comment below. Could you ride out the aftermath of a disaster for three days or more?

 

Additional Resources

  • See info on what to expect in disaster aftermath here.
  • The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster site is ww.nvoad.org. They have links to their members on the “Help Where it is needed most” tab, along with other helpful information.
  • A helpful resource to find reputable relief organizations helping with crises is www.aidmatrixnetwork.org/maps/.
  • To get It’s A Disaster! …And What Are You Gonna Do About It?, click on its title. That’s where you can download a free mini e-book, or order the complete book in print or electronic form.

 

Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.