I got really concerned after watching the following news broadcast (uploaded to YouTube September 25, 2022) after hurricane Fiona went through the Maritime provinces in Canada.
For me, telling people to have enough provisions for 72 hours in preparation for a major hurricane made absolutely no sense. Considering that there were numerous reports of this storm being bigger and potentially worse than previous hurricanes that have hit Canada’s east coast. Hurricane Juan in 2003 and hurricane Dorian in 2019.
The following newscast was uploaded to YouTube on September 21, 2022, which was outlining the potential hazards of Fiona.
I researched hurricane preparedness and was shocked to see that both Canada and the United States have very similar preparedness guidelines for hurricanes. Both indicate having an emergency supply of items/food/water to be self-sustaining for 3 days. On the surface I appreciate both countries providing preparedness information in case of emergencies. However, experience has shown many times that a 3 days worth of supplies is not nearly enough.
It’s widely recognized that the Red Cross regularly assists with various disasters around the world. Yet, when checking the American Red Cross website, it does mention a stay at home kit of supplies for two weeks with regards to preparing for various disasters, including hurricanes.
Considering how much experience the Red Cross has when dealing with large scale disasters, I would have thought they would be recommending supplies for a lot longer than two weeks. When it comes to weather events like hurricanes, it’s very common to see widespread power outages and large-scale flooding. Depending on the severity of the storm and the amount of damage to the electrical infrastructure, power outages could be several weeks, not just a few days.
As for Canada, people in Ontario, Quebec and some Maritime provinces are no strangers to large scale power outages that will take weeks to repair. This is exactly what happened during the ice storm of 1998. As seen in the below video (uploaded to YouTube January 4, 2018), some people were still without power for nearly a month.
Scientists have been saying for years that with global warming, we can expect more severe weather. For the Maritime provinces in Canada, this has definitely occurred with hurricane Fiona. After Fiona, I am already seeing news reports with regards to building stronger homes in order to withstand stronger storms. Yet, I’m not seeing anything with regards to officials updating their emergency preparedness messaging.
Emergency preparedness messaging needs to reflect the reality that things like major power outages (for example) could easily last for weeks, not just 3 days. A major part of that preparedness needs to be a significant Emergency Fund (as already mentioned on this site). No one knows if they may need to stay in a hotel, or some other shelter either prior, during or after a storm (or other) emergency.
Both Canada and the United States emergency websites mention about having some cash on hand. This is important as the ability to access your funds may be limited, if there are significant power outages. Yet I was surprised that I couldn’t find any reference to the importance of having some kind of an Emergency Fund.
When people are told to have supplies for 3 days, it can give them a false sense of security. They may think that everything will essentially be back to normal after that period. Then when it’s not, there’s the potential of growing anger.
People need to recognize that if there’s damage to their home after a major disaster, it’s going to take several days (if not longer) before the damage can be properly assessed. Afterall, there’s likely many others that need those assessments as well. Then there’s the amount of time to conduct those repairs. The period of time is far longer if their home has to be completely rebuilt.
Depending on the scale of the disaster, the time to have things rebuilt could take years. An example of this is the Fort McMurray wildfire in May 2016 in Alberta, which destroyed well over 2,000 homes and buildings. According to the linked article, two years after the fire, only 20% of the homes had been rebuilt.
Even a small village like Lytton British Columbia of about 250 people, which was 90% destroyed by a wildfire in June 2021. A year later, reconstruction still hadn’t started.
While working on this Blog, hurricane Ian devastated parts of Florida and the Carolinas. Hurricane Ian was just shy of a category 5 hurricane when it hit Florida. Like many others, I was shocked at the scale of devastation that was shown in Florida alone.
When we talk about repairing and reconstruction, people need to remember that various businesses in their community may be going through the same thing. This means that many people’s jobs could be put on hold for an unknown period of time. Therefore, what are these people going to do for income, if they don’t have some kind of emergency fund to fall back on?
Many people often shun those in the prepper community. However, there are many preppers that often talk about the importance of having a well stocked pantry of non-perishable foods. I would encourage people to use the different preparedness guides put out by their governments as a guide to get started. Yet as already mentioned, people need to think and plan a lot longer than just 3 days, or two weeks.
Now some people may argue that when it comes to a hurricane, having a well stocked pantry is a waste if there’s the potential of one’s house being badly flooded, damaged, or even destroyed. As there’s no way of knowing for certain which buildngs will suffer the most amount of damage, there are still a number of buildings that are spared or even having very little damage. These homes may only have a long period without power. If that’s the case, their well stocked pantry will help keep the occupants going for quite a while, as they are waiting for the power to be reconnected. Not to mention any delayed re-opening of local grocery stores.
In addition to that well stocked pantry, people need to plan and prepare for the longer term when it comes to potential disasters. I can’t emphasize enough with regards to continuing to build that Emergency Fund. The Canadian Red Cross indicated that 40,000 people had registered for emergency funding after Hurricane Fiona.
As evidence of global warming continues to surface, along with its devastating effects, emergency management officials need to significantly update their emergency preparedness messaging to reflect that reality. Whether it be hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, severe winter weather, etc., people need to be prepared for these potential emergencies.
Until next time, stay safe, healthy and strong.
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