Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Op-Ed: The importance of preparedness after the typhoon

Tim Savoy is a graduate student and program coordinator of GW Responds in the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. Kelsey Siwek is a senior majoring in International Affairs and the GW Responds program assistant.

Imagine your entire home being destroyed. Wind gusts of 200 miles per hour and giant waves destroying everything around you as you wait to survey the damage. As Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines Friday, the lives of millions were changed forever.

To put Haiyan into perspective, the storm was about three-and-a-half times more powerful than Hurricane Katrina, causing billions of dollars of damage. Even greater than this, thousands were injured, millions displaced, and the lives of thousands were lost.

It has been just over one year since Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast and affected many of our family and friends. While this event hit closer to home for our students, people moved on and focused less on the importance of being prepared for such emergencies. Even today, as you go about your daily life, the mere thought of the events in the Philippines will cause many to reflect only briefly thinking, “Yes, it is so sad, but it would never happen here.”

However, it can happen here. Will you be prepared?

Haiyan has reminded us of how critical emergency preparedness can be before a disaster strikes. Quite simply, there are three steps you can take to be better prepared: Develop a plan, assemble a kit and stay informed.

Before a disaster strikes, communicate with family and friends and develop a plan for evacuation or shelter prior to a disaster event. Create a disaster kit with nonperishable items, first aid materials and other essential items. And finally, stay informed with the most up-to-date information. More information about being prepared for an emergency can be found through the Red Cross or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It is times like these we want to get up and go to the affected areas. Be it an earthquake, typhoon, or other natural disaster, the first instinct of many is responding directly to the needs of the affected community. However, what is most needed?

In an area without power, food, clean water and other resources, is it best to send unskilled volunteers from far away? Before acting, we must, as a community, research the resources that are most helpful. In a global tragedy like Typhoon Haiyan, donating money to an effective relief organization will have the greatest impact on recovery efforts.

Ultimately, staying prepared for a disaster and training to respond will be the most useful and effective way to give back to those affected most by disasters. As you see the images of Haiyan’s destruction this week, reflect on the actions you are taking to stay prepared for such emergencies.

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