Question:

What are the phases of disaster relief and recovery?

Disaster Relief Services

After the initial rescue and mitigation activities, many areas of the world affected by disaster also require the delivery of food, clean drinking water, and interim shelter. Disaster relief charities are able to deliver such supplies—often in situations where civil turmoil has erupted due to the deprivations that come with disruption and disaster.

In addition to attending to the basic needs of displaced people, disaster recovery services also work to rebuild damaged infrastructure (such as fixing roads and bridges, restoring electricity and sanitation services, and reestablishing communications). These recovery efforts start immediately and can go on for months or even years.

One of the challenges faced by nonprofit organizations that provide disaster relief is the tapering off of support. When a disaster first strikes, everyone wants to help, however, as the shock wears off and media coverage declines, so do donations. The need persists and disaster relief and recovery activities continue but the response typically diminishes.

One way you can help is to keep disaster relief charities in the back of your mind; if you cannot send a donation when a disaster strikes, rest assured that it will be well-used even if you send it weeks or months later. If you can afford to, consider donating to such organizations a few times a year.

Focusing on Rescue and Mitigating Damage

Whether a disaster takes place in New York City or in Bangladesh, a common challenge is a lack of enough trained responders. Many professional emergency services support about only ten trucks per 100,000 people, and take at least a half hour per rescue. Unfortunately, this means that up to 75% of salvageable victims can die in the time it takes the rescuers to reach them.

By having more trained first-line responders, the work can be done more efficiently and effectively, and more lives can be saved. Energy in the hours immediately following disaster must be focused on rescuing people and also on preventing any further damage or industry. Disaster relief organizations can help by being nearby, by having enough trained people who can lend a hand and by having diversified services so that rescue and mitigation can happen simultaneously.

*You can support disaster relief organizations by donating to them, or you can look into becoming part of your local emergency response volunteer team, as well.

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