In the past three years there have been three “Storms of the Century” wreaking havoc as they ripped through our state causing flooding, power outages, and property damage. I know this is a relatively new century, but based on what we have experienced so far…we may need to accept this as the new normal. That means being prepared when natural disaster or tragedy strikes, I have a feeling the next “storm of the century” is right around the corner.
The alarming thing is that when I checked the Save The Children‘s recent disaster report card, that rated each state, Rhode Island scored poorly. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina showed the United States how unprepared the nation was for major disaster.
Children were extremely vulnerable, often unprotected and it took six months to reunite the last child with her family.
Out of that experience, a presidentially appointed National Commission on Children and Disaster led by Save the Children recommended minimum standards to protect children. Rhode Island rated unsatisfactory on 2 of the 4 basic child-safety measures endorsed by the national commission. According to the Save the Children disaster report card, we are not the only ones, 28 states still lack basic measures to safeguard children in child care and schools in case of disaster.
“Unaccounted For: A National Report Card on Protecting Children in Disaster,” outlines glaring gaps in emergency preparedness, response and recovery underscored by a remarkable year of domestic disaster.“The devastation left by Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, the Oklahoma tornadoes and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School should be a wake-up call, but too many states won’t budge. It’s like they’re stuck in a pre-Katrina world where the gaps in protecting children weren’t so clear,” President and CEO of Save The Children, Carolyn Miles said.
Despite a record disaster year and high-profile school tragedies, most states still fail to meet basic child-safety measures endorsed by a national commission after Hurricane Katrina, Save the Children recently reported.
Save the Children’s disaster report card tracks progress on the four critical standards measured on Save the Children’s disaster report card are that states require all child care centers to have:
1) an evacuation plan
2) a family reunification plan
3) a plan for children with special needs
4) that states require all schools to have disaster plans that account for multiple types of hazards.
With such a need to strive towards ensuring the safety of our children Save the Children is launching a new preparedness initiative called “Get Ready. Get Safe.” to help families and communities protect children at times of disaster. So, what can Rhode Islanders do to help improve our state of preparedness in case disaster strikes? Save the Children is calling on Americans to urge their governors to either meet the report card standards or make sure child-focused emergency plans are in place and practiced once required. There will always be elements beyond our control, but we can make sure that we have a plan in place if disaster does strike.
See the full report and take action here. How does your own state rank?
Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. Follow Save the Children on Twitter and Facebook.
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all-powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.