Hurricanes Irma and Harvey: Managing Burdensome Resources
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By Allison G.S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
For many citizens, the thought of losing every possession, one’s home, family members or beloved family pets would be an immeasurably devastating loss. That scenario is often the terrible reality that often comes with serious, large-scale emergencies such as floods, fires, and hurricanes. Citizens want to help to somehow relieve some of the stress associated with such terrible circumstances.
During a disaster locations often receive too many supplies, and in other cases, caring individuals show up to a scene wanting to help. As we know all too well, resources are desperately needed to help manage a disaster, but not in the terms that many citizens feel would be helpful. Instead, these extra resources create logistical burdens complicating the effective management of a disaster.
The recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida showed numerous ways that citizens were (unfortunately) not helpful with donations – but, emergency managers throughout the country in a collaborative effort did a nice job working through the situation to keep donations to a minimum. Just like so many other things in emergency management, it is important for considerable collaboration on all emergency management topics.
Donate Money, Not Items After Hurricanes Strike
Emergency managers did a nice job educating the public through multiple outlets that sending actual items to a disaster scene can be difficult to manage logistically. link stated that people should donate cash rather than items. Many citizens don’t follow emergency management news, so using the media to send out messages like this to the general public was particularly helpful in helping to manage the large amount of goods citizens would feel compelled to send to a disaster scene.
Virginia Department of Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services
Understanding that many Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics would want to immediately go to a disaster scene to help because they are trained in emergency medicine, the office of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health in the State of Virginia e-mailed providers asking them to not self-deploy. In doing so, they kept a lot of well-meaning people away from the scene helping to manage the situation.
Numerous photos were posted on social media sites showing the realities of donating products to a scene and how wasteful and burdensome it can be. The images helped to educate the public on just how detrimental extra resources can be to managing a disaster scene.
It can be very difficult to control the mass public, especially when a disaster as significant as Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey happens. It does, however, become particularly important to help manage a situation.
Ultimately, emergency managers throughout the country did a very good job working to alleviate some of the burdensome donations that individuals would want to donate.