Understanding the Effects of Disasters and People

Within the past two weeks, individuals across America have remembered the tragic disasters of both Hurricane Katrina and September 11th, 2001. Many southern states are currently experiencing a sequence of hurricanes with Hurricane Ike expected to arrive in the next 24 hours.

Amanda Ripley, a senior writer at TIME Magazine has traveled throughout the world studying all types of disasters. Amanda was in both New York City and New Orleans studying natural and man made disasters. Amanda has written a book titled, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why which explains why people do what they do in a disaster and how we can do better in response to disasters. In order to better understand how individuals respond in a disaster and after disasters, check Amanda Ripley’s book out either on the web or your local book store.

In order to be better prepared for when a disaster happens either at home or at the office, make sure you have a plan, get a kit and be informed!

Remembering Katrina, Preparing for Gustav

Today is the 3rd anniversary of one of the most destructive and devastating natural disasters in American history–Hurricane Katrina. At the time, the Red Cross deployed thousands of volunteers to the Gulf Coast to assist people with their immediate and long-term needs. I wasn’t involved with the Red Cross at the time, but to this day I hear the emotional stories that our volunteers who were part of the relief efforts can still tell so vividly. It makes me feel like I was there, amidst the wreckage and part of the action.

While many volunteers were deployed south to the areas hit, a lot remained here in Chicago to help the displaced people that came our way to seek refuge. It blows my mind to know we helped an additional 7,000 people in the wake of the disaster. To put it in perspective, our chapter typically assists around 5,000 disaster victims in a year!

Ironically, today we have disaster relief workers on stand-by as we prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Gustav and the possible path of destruction it may leave behind. I really hope history doesn’t repeat itself. But if it does, I rest assured that many Red Cross volunteers will be there to offer comfort and a helping hand. Who knows, I might even get to be a part of the action this time.

Do you remember where you were when Hurricane Katrina hit? Comment with your stories!

Visit our website if you want to read more about the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and what we’re doing to prepare for Gustav. For up to the minute news on our response to Hurricane Gustav, check out the Red Cross Online Newsroom.

Oana Odean is Senior Associate in Marketing & Communcations at the chapter.