The wrath of nature lashes us at times when we are least prepared. Tragedy can befall even the strongest of us as we realize the full extent of our mortality. No other force on Earth can make us see this than the full force of nature unleashed on whole cities and locales. Preparation only mitigates the risk of life and property but it can only do so much. For people with disabilities as well as able bodied people, knowing the potential risks of the locality you are living in is the first step in preparation. Are you near active volcanoes? Do you live near the ring of fire? Perhaps your city is located in an earthquake prone zone? Maybe it is near a nuclear power plant?
These are questions that have to be asked. Some countries like Japan regularly hold emergency drills for all sorts of natural calamities. Earthquake, fire and other contingency drills are held to ensure that there is at least a modicum of readiness should disaster strike. But as we have seen in recent history, there are some events that fall in the gaps of human preparedness. Casualties are always there to remind us that we are like ants in a huge ocean when it comes to our home planet.
For those who are on wheelchairs, it is hard to come up with measures to prepare for such maladies such as flash floods or even volcanic eruptions. How many news accounts have we heard lately where a person gives a detailed account in the likes of "we never expected this to happen here" or "we used to think it was safe here" or even "that volcano has been dormant for hundreds of years".
Far too many.
But with mobility challenges come innovations that could allay future problems. The simplest of which includes a personal survival kit that includes necessary medication, potent water supply, clothing, toiletries and communication devices. Emergency contact information noted down on a piece of waterproof laminated paper also plays a vital role not only for identification, but also for contact. After calamities come disorder and chaos. Looting, crime and rape become prevalent as we see our fellow human beings struggling to survive. The breakdown of law and order happens even in the most civilized of nations as people compete for resources. For such, self defense also becomes important.
Preparation in Networking
As grim as it all sounds and as macabre as it all may seem, our survival ultimately depends on our fellow human beings. We are social creatures and are all equal in rights. Surviving means contributing to an amalgam in however way we can for the benefit of all. Nothing has exemplified this more than disasters as we witness feats of minor heroism in rescues, kindness and giving during times of calamity.
We need to realize that we need each other in order to survive. When the time comes, we will need to set aside our differences to achieve a common goal when disaster strikes: to survive.
As such, I believe that the best form of preparation is community organization. It's good to prepare for ourselves but it is better to prepare a whole community on how things should be organized when the time comes. Everything from organizational leadership, division of labor, to the stockpiling of resources, communication and feedback play a part when organizing a small community should the government fail to reach the citizens in a timely manner. Think of it as a temporary micro-government of sorts that would temporarily alleviate a whole community's needs should the need arise.
Though it may be temporary, it should be cohesive enough to last at least a few weeks to months after a major disaster. Knowing that we need each other and knowing that there'll be someone we can turn to in times of disaster helps. Knowing that we can help and have a role in helping also gives us the reassurance that though things may not be the way they used to be, we can always build anew.
Creative Commons Image via Flickr