When disaster strikes, entire villages, cities and regions can be affected, leaving hundreds or thousands of injured and displaced families in urgent need of lifesaving aid and assistance.
That’s why it’s crucial to respond quickly. And to do that, being prepared BEFORE disaster strikes is key to saving more lives and recovering more quickly.
Access to food, water, shelter and medical attention becomes more pressing in the face of disruptions to livelihoods, electric grids, fuel supply, communications and transportation systems that further complicate relief efforts.
Disaster relief “is about saving lives,” said Jisabelle Garcia-Pedroso, Director of Programs and Operations at Food For The Poor. “Bringing hope, getting people back to their normalcy, that daily routine and how we can better help them weather the next storm and get them better prepared.”
In this post, we will look at four reasons why rapid relief response and preparation are critical to saving lives and post-disaster recovery. This blog will also explore how Food For The Poor prepares for the swift mobilization of aid and supplies following a disaster.
Important Reasons for Responding Quickly to Disaster
As the frequency and intensity of severe weather and natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions increase, the need for swift disaster relief and assistance will increase.
1. At its heart, disaster relief is about saving lives. Every second counts when lives are on the line. By responding quickly with the essentials of food, water, shelter and emergency aid, the toll of human suffering is reduced.
Taking a strategic approach to disaster relief makes it possible for organizations like Food For The Poor to deliver emergency aid as quickly and efficiently as possible to the people and areas that need it most.
2. Restoring hope. The value of hope cannot be underestimated. Without immediate help, victims of disaster may face “a lifetime of diminished hope for prosperity.”
Research suggests that getting back to “normal” or establishing daily routines as quickly as possible is important to avoid the negative effects of long-term trauma that affect survivors and communities.
Relief is more than handing something out, Garcia-Pedroso said. “In considering the wholeness of the individual, it’s not just returning life to “normal.” It’s also taking the time to stop and ask, “How are you?” and “How are you feeling?”
“It’s about making families feel like there is that glimmer of hope that things are getting back on track, that there are people that care about me,” she added. “I think that sense of that psychosocial support to so many. We want to save your life, but we want you to know that we’re there, right?”
3. Assessing the needs of the community leads to faster recovery. Once the immediate danger has passed and people are safe, fed and receiving medical attention, assessment results outline the needs and then work with local leaders to get people back into their homes and daily routines as soon as possible.
“Now, it’s time to work with local agencies, local stakeholders on how to get people back into their homes,” Garcia-Pedroso said. “We want kids to start going back to school.”
4. Building Forward Better. The faster the needs of a community are determined, the sooner leaders can look to the future to implement solutions, provide the tools needed to help them weather the next storm and ensure they are better prepared.
“As we’re building these committees and working with community leaders,” Garcia-Pedroso said, “it’s time to look at how do we then integrate these risk reduction interventions into building forward better so we’re not back to the same scenario.”
Being Prepared Is Everyone’s Job
Saving lives is the number one priority of disaster relief and emergency management. And that, Garcia-Pedroso said, means being ready before disaster strikes.
“Someone who is prepared can then help out their brother and sister,” she added. “If everyone is prepared, then we can come back from it together as a community.”
Food For The Poor has established four layers of preparation that enable swift mobilization of aid and supplies to the stricken areas as quickly and efficiently as possible.
1. Ongoing product deliveries provide a constant flow of food, aid and supplies to the countries Food For The Poor helps. Garcia-Pedroso termed it “a conveyor belt of aid,” which provides a steady supply of food and other kinds of supplies to keep in-country warehouses stocked for quick mobilization and delivery to affected areas.
2. Prepositioned relief items. Strategically located in South Florida and close to the Caribbean and Latin America, Food For The Poor stages disaster relief supplies every year that can be immediately shipped out. These kits can be sent within days to replenish supplies if and when needed.
3. Prepositioned air freight ready disaster kits. There are times when air cargo is the faster option to deliver relief aid and supplies to those who need it most. In order to expedite delivery of emergency relief supplies, relief bundles are prepackaged and loaded onto skids, ready for immediate airfreight response.
4. Prepositioning relief kits in-country allows partners on the ground to deliver lifesaving aid almost immediately. These staged kits contain items such as blankets, tarps, women’s hygiene kits, activity kits for children, diapers, liquid purification packets and emergency radios. By prepositioning these kits with our partners in-country, the loss of valuable time shipping is avoided.
“Prepositioning for us has been very key in the last two years,” Garcia-Pedroso said of the organization’s disaster response and preparation practices, allowing the charity to deliver aid to those who need it more quickly through implementing partners.
Every Second Counts When It Comes to Disaster Relief
At its heart, disaster relief is about saving lives. And that means being ready before disaster strikes.
Research shows that every dollar invested in preparation and risk reduction saves $6.
For Food For The Poor, disaster relief is about more than saving money. It’s about doing the right things right, one of the guiding principles at the heart of the charity.
“For us,” Garcia-Pedroso explained, “it’s not only about saving dollars, being good stewards of our donor’s funds, it’s also about putting the tools in the hands of communities so they can act swiftly.”
Take Action To Help Save Lives Today
Providing lifesaving aid and assistance after a disaster sustains life and maintains hope for the future and the potential for full economic recovery.
Your support can make a lifesaving difference for families and communities in crisis by providing food, shelter and medical care to those who have been devastated by disaster.
Food For The Poor makes it easy to provide hope and relief to victims of disaster. Visit www.FoodForThePoor.org to give your generous gift today.