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General Planning Tips - Response

After a disaster strikes an area, people need help, and time is limited. Some individuals can find support from family and friends while others cannot. Responders can use the tools, contacts, and plans developed during the preparedness phase to help those with immediate needs.

Conduct a Rapid Needs Assessment Survey. Rapid needs assessment surveys can be useful in determining who will require what type of aid. For this technique, teams go to the disaster areas to speak with the community and assess the needs and wants of the area. Surveyors might examine the conditions of those who did not evacuate and the damage sustained by utilities, buildings, and infrastructure. Survey teams could also distribute goods and information to the community. The information acquired through a rapid needs assessment survey could be used to:

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Case Study: After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Rapid Needs Assessment Survey Teams went to Hancock County, Mississippi. The Survey Teams discovered that 49 % of the residents had problems with mosquitoes; 41% of the residents lacked electricity; 37 % of the residents had malfunctioning indoor toilets; 34% of the residents had a member of their household who needed medical care; and 33% of the residents needed trash removed from their homes. These teams passed information, telephone numbers, and insect repellent to the people. They also shared their data with the state public health department. Then, the findings were used to designate proper support and services.

Lessons Learned: The Rapid Needs Assessment Surveys helped state agencies serve the needs of the affected communities in a timely and focused way.

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Include non-traditional responders. There are people who work for public or private firms and normally provide support to specific sites. These people have skills in security, health, or care providing that are useful in emergency management. They are aware of the needs of people within their sites. Their alternate training and knowledge could offer new insight into common problems, and their expertise can help other communities plan for events. Many times plans overlook these skills because they are not linked with police or fire departments. By connecting with these professionals before an event, they will be more willing to help during an event. Potential contacts include:

Note this list is not inclusive. Each community may find members useful in situations and should reach out to anyone who could help.

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