Disasters: Are you and your clients ready?

At February’s Brown Bag, Cindy Mullaney of the Office of Emergency Services for Flathead County discussed that often dreaded topic – Disasters. Most of us do not want to even think about the possibility of a disaster. However, to paraphrase Norman Ralph Augustine, planning leaves a disaster less to chance.

Mullaney spoke about the various planning layers for a disaster: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. In mitigation, we work to eliminate or reduce the impact of a disaster. Have you checked the fire alarms in your building lately? In preparedness, we create protocols for a disaster. Who will work from home? How will you operate if you can’t get into your office for several days? In response, we outline the actions during an emergency. If your Executive Director is unreachable, does everyone know who the next in command is? And, finally, in recovery, we outline the tasks to get back to normal or the new normal. How will you move back into your office once it is safe?

Mullaney also spoke about functional needs. The Office of Emergency Services makes plans for anyone who will need additional assistance during a disaster – such as a person with a disability or the elderly. Nonprofits can assist Emergency Services by informing them of clients who would need help. For example, during a flood, nonprofits can fax a list of clients that the flood would make it difficult to leave their home on their own.

Finally, Mullaney provided a tremendous resource in the form of a CD with more information and templates for planning for a disaster. If you would like a copy of this CD and the PowerPoint of the presentation, please e-mail Chany at admin@npdp.org with your mailing address. We only have a limited number of CDs, so it will be first come, first serve. The PowerPoint presentation is also on our website here.

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