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PetFriendlyTravel.com gives links and tips for preparing for every member of your family who will be affected by an emergency, including your pets.

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Hurricane Preparedness Week 2009 was held May 24th through May 30th, and was a great opportunity for hurricane-prone areas around the country to focus on preparedness. Regional news stations featured stories on preparedness, the nuts and bolts of hurricane formations and local emergency information. There were numerous Hurricane Preparedness Expos held throughout Florida.

Heading this effort was a PLAN!T NOW Partner and NGO, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA’s Hurricane Preparedness Week website clearly states its mission: “ to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take ACTION. This information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.” To further this mission, the website is designed in both English & Spanish.

Another great effort was put forth by NBC-3WSAV Hilton Head/Savannah. Storm Team 3 Chief Meteorologist Kris Poseman offered great resources to prepare for hurricanes and learn the science behind them, including:

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The national public radio show Marketplace reports on the sky-high insurance rates that are causing many homeowners to go without insurance, as Hurricane Season 2009 begins. Read the transcript here.

Associated Press’ Ieva M. Augstums reports here that homeowners along the East Coast and in the Gulf Coast region are facing rising insurance premiums, changing or dropped coverage.

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In December 2008 P!N staffer Suzie Ahlers wrote this article about controversies surrounding the continued use of the Saffir-Simpson scale. This month, Houston Chronicle blog writer Eric Berger explains the scientific basis behind changes to drop storm surge and central pressures from the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, largely in response to Hurricane Ike.

In March PlanItNow.org reported on the digital conversion and the effect this would have on prepared people’s emergency devices such as portable TVs. WTSP-Channel 10 in Tampa Bay reporter Matthew Sinn reports on how the digital switch will affect hurricane season, and Naples Daily News intern writer Jeff Weiner writes about how most portable TVs don’t receive signals now.

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The Emergency Preparedness Demonstration is a joint project of FEMA and MDC, with the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies and the Texas A&M Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center

Background
Research and experience have demonstrated that disadvantaged or marginal populations (including children, the elderly, people with disabilities, low-income, and non-English speaking groups, etc.) suffer disproportionately during disasters. The most basic explanation for this is that many are unaware of risks they face, and even if aware, many lack sufficient resources or ability to escape them. Consequently, to better understand the barriers preventing disadvantaged communities from being more aware of and better prepared for disasters, FEMA entered into a cooperative agreement with MDC, Inc. (see description below) to launch the Emergency Preparedness Demonstration (EPD). To support the design and implementation of the EPD, MDC called on researchers from the University of North Carolina’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) and The Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University.

By the end of the EPD it will have been carried out in eight (8) states (AL, DE, MD, NC, PA, TX, VA, and WV) and Washington, DC, with intent to:

    Learn why disadvantaged communities are typically less prepared for disasters and what preparation strategies have and haven’t worked.

    Test ways to engage disadvantaged communities in helping with disaster planning and preparedness.

    Reduce community and household vulnerability to harm from disasters while positioning the community to undertake coordinated, comprehensive, and equitable disaster recovery in the future.

Approach
In each local site MDC and partners worked with the local office of emergency management and a trusted community-based organization to identify community leaders, agency heads, and other advocates, as well as members of our target population, who could be part of a community planning team. Each team participated in a facilitated process that required reflection on its history of disasters, an informed examination of the extent to which disadvantaged groups remain vulnerable to disasters, and the consideration of promising strategies for increasing disaster awareness and preparedness among disadvantaged groups. Local teams were provided with resources to support planning efforts, including staff support, meeting expenses, coaching, technical support, and small implementation grants. At the conclusion of the planning phase, each team sent delegates to a peer summit where sites could share information and lessons learned.

Results
In each site the EPD sought to ensure representation, authentic participation, and leadership from disadvantaged communities, while conveying the knowledge and capacities necessary for raising disaster awareness and preparedness. This deliberate effort has resulted in new or improved relationships between emergency management, CBOs, and citizens, and helped communities identify resources/capacities internal and external to the community that could be marshaled to meet community preparedness goals. We have also produced a set of useful tools for increasing the extent to which disadvantaged groups are accounted for in local emergency management programs and compiled a list of promising practices from around the country focusing on reducing the impact of disasters on disadvantaged groups. In future articles I’ll share more information about those tools and a few of the stories from places the EPD has touched.

About MDC: MDC is a private nonprofit headquartered in Chapel Hill, NC. Founded in 1967 to identify and help remove barriers to progress for the South, MDC has been publishing research and developing programs and policies focused on expanding opportunity, reducing poverty, and building inclusive civic communities in the American South and across the United States for the past 40 years.

About CURS: The Center‘s mission is to conduct high-quality applied research on urban, regional, and rural planning and policy issues.

About Texas A&M: Texas A&M University’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center was founded in 1988 to conduct research on hazard mitigation, disaster preparedness, emergency response, and disaster recovery. The HRRC serves as one of two United Nations Collaborative Centers in the world.

John Cooper is a Program Director at MDC Inc., where he directs a $2.5 million FEMA supported effort to understand barriers to increased emergency awareness and preparedness in disadvantaged communities.

Resources

With the 2009 hurricane season about to get underway, Cellular South, the nation’s largest privately owned wireless communications carrier, is offering consumers and businesses in storm-prone areas some important disaster planning and communications reminders to use before, during and after any storm.

Resources

Emergency Shelter information is updated regularly for Coastal U.S. states at these links:

Alabama

Florida

Georgia

Louisiana

Mississippi

South Carolina & the Greater Carolinas

Texas

International
Caribbean Red Cross, covering Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago.

Resources

The deadline for students to submit materials for the PLAN!T NOW Undergraduate Hurricane Relief Scholarships has been extended to June 15th.  Go to the Scholarship page to learn more about the scholarship and to register for an application.

"Surviving Disaster deconstructs how the brain responds to life-or-death events—so that we can all learn to do better. The documentary includes many characters from my book, in addition to other survivors of all kinds of trauma, from tsunami to car crashes. One young survivor describes in unflinching detail exactly what it felt like to get out of a house fire as a little girl in Texas. It is the kind of story you will never forget once you see it, and it is told with a purpose—to help the rest of us become smarter and stronger in our own homes and communities." - Amanda Ripley, author of THE UNTHINKABLE, Who Survives When Disaster Strikes.

It's been just over five years since this revolutionary book was first published and we urge you to celebrate by buying a copy of THE UNTHINKABLE. It's essential mantra is ours : practice makes perfect where preparedness is concerned. Go to PBS.com to purchase the 2012 companion documentary that will change your life and perspective about emergency preparedness, based on the book by the insightfully, plain-spoken Amanda Ripley. Click here and buy it on AMAZON!

Get your game on with Owlie!

Look for Owlie the mascot at the following events:

  • Maryland Day (April 26, 2014) University of Maryland Campus--Open to the public
  • 3rd USA Science and Engineering Festival (April 25-27, 2014) Washington DC Convention Center
  • Nationals Weather Day (April 2014). Washington Nationals baseball team in partnership with the NWS office in Sterling, Va., and Fox TV
  • Public Service Recognition Week (May 4, 2014). Event Sponsor--US Govt Office Personnel Management (OPM). Several government mascots participate including Smokey Bear

To help increase awareness of the need for educating children about severe weather preparedness, PLAN!T NOW (P!N), has teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service (NWS), the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the National Education Association (NEA) to produce The Young Meteorologist Program (YMP). The program is a free online resource and computer game starring OWLIE, a wise, weather-savvy hero who educates and empowers children and adults alike as he teaches severe-weather science, weather awareness and safety. Click here and play the game now!

TODOS HELP DONATE EMERGENCY WEATHER KITS

You can help protect low-income and disadvantaged families in Mexico and the U.S.!

PLAN!T NOW, in collaboration with Estes Mexico and other corporate partners, is working to provide life-saving weather survival kits--including water, storage-ready food, flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits and other critical supplies--and emergency family plans for residents in two severe-weather vulnerable towns in Mexico and the U.S.

Your tax-deductible donation today helps save lives tomorrow--give now.

For more information and the metric for this project, click here.