On July 23, 2010, I was no girl scout. I was not prepared for the massive flood in my basement. That day, more than 7.5 inches of rain fell on parts of the Chicago area over 13 hours, closing highways, streets, intersections and public transit rail lines but also overwhelming basements all over the city. Beyond the streets and highways, it was a silent disaster, because the destruction was below ground and out of sight in everybody’s basements.
In communities where neighbors still know each other, help was almost immediate. I was lucky to be in one of those communities.
After the immediate cleanup I joined a neighborhood group to talk about next steps, and almost a year later, I see the complexity of long-term recovery after a disaster. Part of our work is now focused on preparedness, on being ready next time for specific events or situations.
Preparedness was big for a while after September 11, 2001. Public safety and personal preparedness was on our radar screen but soon lost its urgency. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards or floods always bring the issue to the front of our minds, but unless it’s actually happening to us, unless it’s in our own backyard or community, our attention to it soon fades.
Do you and your household have a preparedness plan that includes rehearsing the plan, surviving the emergency, dealing with the immediate aftermath and having a long-term recovery plan? How about your congregation? Lutheran Disaster Response has good information and good advice.
Set aside some time to talk about these things in your congregation or with your family the next time you are all together. Just a thought as I prepare for the Midwest earthquake drill.