The FEMA For Kids website offers hurricane facts, pictures, games and more. There are even trading cards that feature canine heros who have warned or rescued their companions.


Each week in 2009, is awarding $500 to a person 25 years or younger with a project idea around the themes of disaster preparedness and emergency response.


The award-winning Masters of Disaster® disaster preparedness curriculum teaches children how to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters and other emergencies. The series is designed to teach youth the importance of preparedness while reducing fear of the unexpected. The goal is to empower youth with the confidence and knowledge to prepare for disasters and help create a culture of preparedness.

Families with children ages 5 – 14 can go through the Family Kit together, which includes 12 topic areas (including Hurricanes). Each topic area contains multiple activity sheets and information.

Family Fun Activity Sheets are available to download and print out, with activities that the whole family can do together at home.

The curricula for educators are divided into three age groups: Grades K – 2; Grades 3 – 5; and Grades 6 – 8. Teachers can access the three Educator’s Kits here.

Additionally, Arizona PBS Station KAET, broadcasting from Arizona State University, has made the series available for families online, with videos and certificates included to make the experience truly interactive.


In a radio piece aired in December 2008, National Public Radio’s Senior Reporter Elizabeth Blair researched the stories behind two inspiring children’s books written after Hurricane Katrina.

Molly the Pony by Pam Kaster tells the true story of Molly, a pony who survived alone in a barn for three weeks after Katrina. After being rescued and adopted, she was attacked by a dog, eventually losing a leg and learning to walk with a prosthesis.

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson, Mary Nethery, and Jean Cassels is also an amazing real-life animal survival story. It tells the tale of a dog and cat, both with bobbed tails, that were left behind during Katrina and survived together for over five months in the devastation and wreckage before being rescued.

Click here to hear NPR’s Elizabeth Blair speak to the authors about these real life, heart wrenching and ultimately happy stories.

On, writer Elizabeth Kennedy profiles four hurricane-related books.

Yesterday We Had A Hurricane/Ayer Tuvimos un Huracon by Deidre McLaughlin Mercier. Ms. Mercier, a teacher & counselor, provides an introduction to the effects of a hurricane to children ages 3 – 6 years.

Sergio and the Hurricane by Alexandra Wallner. The story, set in Puerto Rico, tells of Sergio and his family and how they prepare for, wait through, and clean up after a hurricane. It emphasizes all of the preparations the family makes to safely get through the storm. 5 – 8 years.

Hurricane! by Jonathan London & illustrated by Herni Sorensen. This story, also set in Puerto Rico, dramatically describes the experience of a family who, with little notice, have to flee their home for an inland shelter. 6 – 9 years.

Hurricanes: Earth’s Mightiest Storms by Patricia Lauber. 9 – 14 year-olds will appreciate this nonfiction book about hurricanes, which features photographs, maps, satellite images, and weather diagrams along with a chapter dedicated to the devastation caused by a hurricane.

Featured Column

The Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters, the Center for the Study of the American South, and PLAN!T NOW are in the process of developing an annual workshop that showcases the important role the arts and humanities play in helping to explain the impacts of disasters on communities and vulnerable populations. The study of hazards and disasters by members of the arts and humanities provides an important and unique perspective on the nature of natural hazards and their impact on individuals, groups, communities and the larger society in which we live. While Hurricane Katrina has dramatically shown the role of the arts in helping a community to regain its sense of self during recovery, the value of studying this phenomenon and others like it remains less developed when compared to the physical and social sciences.

We suggest that it is time for the arts and humanities to conduct an assessment of their role in advancing our collective knowledge of hazards and disasters. Disasters often serve as “focusing events,” highlighting issues of community solidarity as well as long-standing problems of neglect. Similarly, there is a long-standing tradition among individuals and groups who use the arts as a means of self expression. Before and after disasters, these stories and works of art tell us a great deal about the makeup of the people impacted by these events, including the social, political and environmental conditions in their communities, and how they cope with them. There is a rich history of musicians, songwriters, storytellers, and artists who have important stories to tell. It is up to us to capture this information in order to understand it and ensure that it is not lost over time or following a disaster.

The means by which we propose to accomplish these aims are different that the traditional meeting of scholars and the publication of a report detailing recommended areas of study. Instead we propose the hosting of an annual workshop titled A Resilient South: An Action Plan for the Humanities and the Arts. The workshop will address the role of the arts and humanities in helping to identify the elements of a disaster resilient community, advance our knowledge of these conditions, and apply this information in practice in order to increase awareness and promote healing following a disaster. Broad themes applied throughout the workshop include teaching, education and outreach; information collection and archiving; research; advocacy and therapy.

Workshop participants will include artists and scholars, brought together on the University of North Carolina campus and the neighboring towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Specific venues will include art and photographic exhibits; film screenings; live music; and oral history, poetry and literature readings. In addition, lectures will be conducted by anthropologists, philosophers, historians, architects and design experts, historic preservationists, and others discussing the significance of workshop venues and describing the impact of the arts and humanities in our understanding of natural hazards and disasters.

Disaster resilience, a key issue framing the workshop, can be defined as the ability to rebound from a shock to the system. Understood in the context of natural hazards and disasters, it refers to actions taken by individuals, groups and institutions to lessen the negative physical, social, economic, and environmental impacts of disasters both before and after an event. Very little is known about the role of the arts and humanities in accomplishing this goal. The workshop will provide an organizational venue to address this gap in our collective understanding.

The annual workshop will address the concept of resilience across the following dimensions: preparedness, response, hazard mitigation and recovery. Each dimension is representative of what is commonly referred to as the four phases of emergency management. Preparedness implies the actions taken to improve one’s readiness for an event. Examples may include creating an evacuation plan, placing materials in the public library about the hazards prevalent in their community, or conducting pre-event exercises. Response refers to the ability of individuals and organizations to take action following an event to assist with the rescue, sheltering and feeding of impacted populations. Hazard mitigation is defined as pre- and post-event actions intended to reduce future injuries, loss of life or damages to property associated with the effects of natural hazards. Examples may include the elevation or relocation of flood-prone properties, the strengthening of public buildings to better withstand the impacts of high winds, earthquakes, wildfire or flooding, and policies that limit development in areas subject to natural hazards. Recovery is the process of restoring, reshaping and reconstructing the physical, social, environmental and economic infrastructure damaged by a disaster. It also provides an opportunity to improve pre-event conditions through grass roots public participation and planning.

Issue-based workshop modules will be comprised of multiple exhibits, screenings, music, readings and lectures. The modules will address the four dimensions noted above and other important themes as identified by the workshop committee. Examples may include collecting and archiving art and historical records, historic preservation, race and class-based topics, disasters as seminal historic events, and the concept of social vulnerability.

The workshop is viewed as part of an ongoing process and will be conducted annually. Workshop products will include more than written papers given by invited scholars and artists. Given the visual and oral nature of the event, the proceedings will also include video and audio recordings as well as donated works of art, film and other media as identified. In the future, the workshop may result in the generation of community organizing manuals and the creation of a journal focused on the topic of hazards, arts and the humanities. Finally, it is expected that additional products and ideas will emerge from the coming together of the group. Examples may include the creation of traveling exhibits, the development of additional collaborative efforts and suggested changes in existing policies impacting the arts and humanities.

As the planning for the workshop evolves over time, additional stories will follow on the P!N website, highlighting speakers, musicians and others involved in this exciting event.

Gavin Smith, Ph.D.
Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


In September 2008 the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA Ready Kids Campaign, in partnership with the Sesame Workshop, announced the release of their “Let’s Get Ready!” program on emergency preparedness for parents of young children. The goal is to help families plan for emergencies together through simple activities and games. Erin Streeter, Director of the Ready Campaign, explains that “‘Let’s Get Ready!’ gives parents the tools they need to talk to their young children in a very kid-friendly and non-threatening way and instill in them important information to help them deal with the unexpected.”

Click here to download and view the materials, and to access the information in Spanish.

Additionally, the FEMA Ready Kids page has a wealth of information for older kids and educators also.


Christina Elston writes for the health blog health e and has been a health writer for about 15 years, starting as an assistant editor at L.A. Parent. In this article she gives tips to parents on what questions to ask themselves and the community at large when making preparedness plans, and how to help kids prepare without making it boring. She quotes Jeffrey Upperman, M.D., director of the trauma program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: “Preparedness does not have to be boring or scary. You can have fun with it.”

"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 to purchase the 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!


You may already know that our Owlie Skywarn is a severe weather prep hero! Now, THE YMP WEATHERFEST RALLIES are being held in cities all over the country, in cooperation with The National Weather Service, to help prepare the nation's kids as well as their parents and teachers for flash floods, climate change, storms and tornadoes, and more.

These events include appearances by OWLIE SKYWARN, the mascot and lots of participation by community first responders and other stakeholders! Go to for more information. And GO TO to PLAY THE GAME!


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.