Tag: Oklahoma

Oklahoma – Rebuilding After Disaster

Chickasaw Nation is part of the rich history of central Oklahoma

Chickasaw Nation is part of the rich history of central Oklahoma

I HEART OKLAHOMA– in a really big way! The nicest people live in a state which sustained some of the worst tragedy at the hands of “Mother Nature”.   I first visited Oklahoma this past June, three weeks after the cities of Moore and Norman were devastated by  EF5 tornados.  I couldn’t believe what I saw then.  It took my breath away to see so much in ruin. So many hearts broken.  I was able to help meet with many at a conference during June and many of us  talked for hours about where one can start with the healing process when your community is shaken.  I know I left Oklahoma with much more than I brought with me. Which is why I was so pleased to have an opportunity this past week to return to beloved Oklahoma at the request of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf and the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.   This time we discussed how to plan and prepare for any future disasters.  From individuals to school teachers to bus drivers and to vocational and rehabilitation employees. Yes, it takes a village to keep our communities safe. When I presented yesterday to this amazing group of teachers, counselors, bus drivers and many others at OSD, I learned that despite having repeated disasters  – their communities are not as prepared as they need to be.  No shelter in place plans or preparations for many.  No course of action for bus drivers on what to do during a major disaster or emergency with people who have special needs or deafness.  No evacuation discussions with local emergency or First Responders to assist those with unique challenges, such as individuals in wheelchairs or who are Autistic.  Not much of anything.  These findings  shocked the audience, but didn’t surprise me as Save the Children has Oklahoma (and many more states) listed as failing to have plans in place for disasters when it comes to serving  families and those with disabilities.  Sad. The participants left the session with some information, many with heavy hearts and I hope a “call for change”.   I recognized the resiliency in their spirit. I had seen it before on the faces of many I had known go through the tragedy.  I also know that there is physical and emotional healing occurring daily for them.  I saw the physical when I drove back through Moore, Oklahoma and snapped photos in the very places I had been four months ago.  Emotionally, people seemed less ‘raw’ and more able to seek help and make changes.

This is what I shared during the workshop that I hope will be of value to YOU, so no matter where you live you will be prepared in the event of a disaster.

1- We learn how to help each other and be prepared with each and every disaster. Which is why RedCross.org ,  FEMA.org and many other sites now offer disaster templates and information for families, organizations and schools.

2- If you have a loved one who has special needs, please be sure to add to your readiness kits what they need. Including sweatshirts to block out sounds, sunglasses to make odd visual stimuli easier, mp3 player with ear phones, games, medicines and comfort objects. Be prepared for ALL in your family. Including FIDO who may need to come with you to a shelter.  Have copies of your information on a flashdrive and hard copies made on your person.  Include phone numbers of physicians, insurance agents, relatives and others.  BRING FAMILY PHOTOS in case you are separated to help with reunification. 3- Don’t think it can’t happen to you.  Disaster can happy any time, any place, to any person. 4.-  I’ll do it tomorrow.  This excuse won’t be good enough when the earthquake, tornado or act of terrorism happens tonight. 5-  IDENTIFICATION is essential.  Be sure to have proper ID on yourself and consider using ICE in your phone and on person- ID such as MediPal for those who cannot or are unable to communicate. 6- Ask for help after a disaster.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can impact anyone after a disaster.  You don’t need to be the direct victim of an event to have PTSD. Seek help if you feel pervasively sad, can’t sleep or eat as usual,  or a sense of doom that just won’t go away. 7- Be willing to help others.  Be part of the solution. Be part of your local disaster plan. 8- PRACTICE your plan for evacuation and how to shelter in place BEFORE a disaster.  SHAKEOUT.org is getting ready for a whole country earthquake practice drill. Below you will see photos taken last June 2013 and this last week from Moore, Oklahoma. Thank you for reading.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My tour of Moore, Oklahoma

This scene is repeated for what seems like miles and miles.

This scene is repeated for what seems like miles and miles.

This past week I had an experience that took my breath away – I toured Moore, Oklahoma.  The only reasonable conclusion I could make was that Mother Nature had swept up the good people of Moore’s lives and homes- put it in a massive blender only to scatter what remained randomly for miles and miles and miles. And for the record, this scene also has happened in other areas, such as Shawnee and Norman, Oklahoma.

While in Oklahoma I met the MOST resilient and friendliest of people.  One woman greeted me by saying, “We don’t have much left here, but still we will  give you the shirt off our back”.   And, I know they would!

Also, BRAVO to the companies that I saw literally go above and beyond the call of duty.  To the AAA Autoclub who sent their team for three straight weeks and provided comfort and care via their disaster trucks. To the makers of Lysol who were going place to place bringing disaster relief.   WALMART (say what you will.. ) rolled in scores of their trucks to help out the good citizens of Oklahoma.  Plus the numbers (too many to count) who came from far and wide to bring their own “muscle” to help people clear the debris and start to rebuild.

This folks is what the heartland is all about.

Here is a slide show of my tour of the damage of Moore, Oklahoma. (Notice even the road and driveways are GONE)

To help:

SERVE MOORE

RED CROSS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When the Earth Shakes and Spins! How to be prepared for Earthquakes and Tornadoes!

source: Wikipedia

source: Wikkipedia

If a hurricane hit your home today would have an evacuation plan? If you awoke in the middle of the night to the earth trembling and your home shaking violently- would you know what to do? Green skies are often the first warning of a tornado coming – where should you go?  Dangerous chemicals were let in to the air following a train derailment near your home – would you know what to do and where to get credible information for either evacuation or sheltering in place?

It has been my privilege to work with disaster specialists throughout the United States. They work tirelessly on all of our behalf.

Therefore, in the interest of public safety I will be posting as series of articles about how to PREPARE for potential disasters AND also offer resources for you to learn more.

To start I would like to discuss two very REAL threats to our personal and property safety-  earthquakes  and tornadoes.

EARTHQUAKE PREPARATION

 You may think that earthquakes are only on the west coast of the United States or in remote mountain regions of Asia.  But, that simply is false. Earthquakes happen in almost every state in the US and throughout the world, from the islands of Japan to the mountains of China.  In fact, earthquakes can occur anytime, anywhere. Just ask the people of Washington DC who experienced a good size earthquake of a magnitude of 5.8  in 2011 (The epicenter was in Virginia).

Click here to find your area and see if you are in a location of where more than one million registered earthquakes occurred this year. (Approximately 13,000 were a 4.0 magnitude or higher).  States with the most earthquakes? Alaska and California  have the most (no surprise) but you may not have thought of Utah as a top earthquake location?

So how can you prepare for an earthquake?

 What to do during an earthquake?  We use to think that standing in a doorway was the best idea. NOPE.  What about running outside? Not the “A” answer, either. According to the United States Geological Service (USGS) the best idea is to DROP, ROLL UNDER something STURDY and HOLD ON! (View demo video here)

This new safety information is so important that an effort known as the SHAKE OUT will be conducted this coming Fall.  What is SHAKE OUT? Simply it is a designated date and time where as many US and Canadian citizens participate in a  mock “earthquake drill”.  The SHAKE OUT drill will be on October 17th at 10:17 in the morning. (Interesting piece of trivia – October 17th is the anniversary date of the Oakland earthquake of 1989)  To register your family or business for the drill or learn more click here. 

Also relevant and related to earthquake safety is to learn about tsunamis. A tsunami is a wall of water that is created following an earthquake, meteor or other disruption to the ocean.  A devastating tsunami hit Japan in 2011 and resulted in mass casualty and loss of property.  (Read about recovery efforts here )

What to do if there is a tsunami?

 Many coastal areas in the United States now have tsunami warning systems.

However, the most important thing to know about a tsunami is to prepare in advance as where you can that is safe, elevated and within fifteen minutes of your home. This packet of information was very helpful to understand tsunamis and be prepared:  Tsunami Preparedness by NOAA

TORNADO PREPARATION

Tornadoes are a real and present threat to life and property.  Like an earthquake, tornadoes can strike anywhere at any time. We only need to read the headlines of recent events to see how a tornado touching down for a few minutes can cause profound heartbreak.  Moore, Oklahoma now joins the ranks of other towns, such as Joplin, Missouri, Granbury, Texas,  as a place where  giant tornadoes have  pummeled through communities, schools and farmland.

How to prepare for a tornado?

What are considered the “best practices” if you know that you are in an area experiencing a tornado watch or warning?  First, recognize the “signs” that a tornado is coming.

  • GREEN SKIES
  • DARKENING SKIES
  • HAIL
  • LOUD NOISE, described by some like a “freight train”
  • WARNING SIRENS or ALERTS RECEIVED

What should you do if you know a tornado is a true threat?

Take shelter immediately! Go to a basement, storm cellar, interior room or closet. Stay away from windows. Try to shield yourself from potential flying debris by having something over you. Be sure to have a cell phone (if possible), flashlight and battery operated radio with you.  Here is more information about planning and safety from the CDC

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR FAMILY PETS

Again, let planning be your friend. The Humane Society published these guidelines for pet owners.

You also can read more from the SPCA by clicking on the photo above or this link.

What if your family member has special considerations, such as uses a wheelchair, has Autism or lives with Alzheimer’s? 

There are many websites and videos (open and/or closed captioned for those with hearing loss) that can be of great assistance and a wealth of information . There are many sites to review, but these are some of my favorites.

RED CROSS 

READY.GOV

EMSC NATIONAL RESOURCE CENTER

DEAFInc.com

SAVE THE CHILDREN

LASTLY… 

What information can I share with my family that is “child friendly”

I really liked this website (in addition to the child resources from the sites mentioned above)

USGS KID INFO (including science fair project ideas)

In the next post we will discuss safety and preparation for Hurricane Season.   Please feel free to share YOUR disaster preparation safety information below. Thank you

 Stay safe everyone!

~Louise

———————————————————————————————————————————————

Louise Satter is a Psychologist who  created the SIGN LANGUAGE FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS Series – ASL, ENGLISH and SPANISH.  Read more about how to connect with Louise for speaking engagements, including the DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS PROGRAM (including sign language) and other programs related to safety and the well-being of children and adults with exceptional needs.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
%d bloggers like this: