One thing is for sure, America and its citizens are vulnerable at all times to natural disasters. Whether it's hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods, fires, or volcano’s, it's not a question of if, it's always a question of when and where disaster strikes.
With computer modeling we can even predict where such events are likely to occur. Thus, we know which areas of the country are more likely than not to be affected by natural disasters.
So, it makes perfect sense to focus on areas of the country that are vulnerable, while empowering local authorities to take the lead in preparation and management; with the help and assistance of state and federal governments.
I suggest every American be issued an emergency response identification card. Such a card would identify the person by their address and it would additionally contain life saving information, like blood type, next of kin, and other germane details.
While everyone would be required to provide basic information, a citizen could augment it with information they would want shared. The card would also contain information on where to report in the event of an evacuation, or to get supplies. Such identification would also contain phone numbers and websites to get public instructions and updates.
In areas government deems as "high risk" for natural disasters, local communities well in advance of any event, would have stock-piled supplies of bottled water, military style meals ready to eat, cots, blankets, and medical supplies prepositioned in public buildings. That is, structures like schools, armories, municipal buildings, churches, fire houses, theaters, etc.
Every citizen in affected areas would know in advance where they are to report locally to get supplies, or to seek shelter. The supplies amassed and housed would be a three day supply for every person in every designated shelter or supply center. It has been said that the first 3 days in the aftermath of a disaster are the most critical in both assessing and responding to natural disasters.
It will be the responsibility of local officials to let citizens know through official communications in advance of disasters what every home must contain in preparation. If people are not able to afford supplies then they can petition the local authorities for such supplies like flashlights, candles, radios, etc. — free of charge.
By stockpiling supplies locally, the government is assured that supplies are nearby. This way they know too where they are; so do the people affected. The ID cards will also make it easier for local governments to account for the people they are charged to protect.
The initial costs for localizing supplies and creating storage areas will be amortized over the shelf-life of the supplies themselves. Shelf-life today can be as much as 10 years for bottled water and meals ready to eat. In addition, towards the end of the shelf-life of supplies, they can be given away to the needy. This way nothing goes to waste.
Governments closest to the people know their populations the best. Thus, they are positioned the best to provide superior preparations and responses to natural disasters — to their constituents with the help of state and federal authorities. Time is the most precious commodity in disaster relief and the time it takes to amass and move supplies over great distances hampers responses to those in need.
The most important role of government is to prevent harm not merely respond to it afterwards.
It makes perfect sense for governments to rethink emergency management. This is this a great place to start, by empowering and supplying local governments.
Bradley Blakeman was a member of President George W. Bush's senior White House staff from 2001 to 2004. He is also a frequent contributor to Fox News and Fox Business Channel. He currently is a Principal with the 1600group.com a consulting company. — Click Here Now.
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