Four years ago, my hometown was among those affected by record flooding caused by the remnants of tropical storm Lee adding ten inches of rain to ground already saturated by Irene a few days prior. We were grateful that no one in our area was killed by the flood, largely due to the fact that people followed evacuation orders. However, there was a lot of damage with some homes and businesses lost permanently.
Since then, emergency preparedness has gotten more attention from government and the media, especially in September which is designated as disaster preparedness month.
One of the most important things to maintain during a crisis is effective communication. This is an area, though, where sometimes lower tech is more vital than high-tech.
Although our home did not flood, we were without electrical service for four days, which also meant no telephone or internet service. We would listen to the radio for information and it was very frustrating to get only very limited information on-air with the directive to go to their website for complete information. Those of us who most needed that information did not have internet available. I can hear some people saying that we should just use our cell phones, but a) the majority of people in our area don’t have cell phones with internet access, b) with no electricity, it’s difficult to keep cell phones charged, and c) during emergencies, cell networks often fail due to increased traffic.
Battery-operated, hand-cranked, or car radios are a better tool than the internet for reaching people who are affected by floods, ice storms, and other emergencies that result in loss of electrical service. Disaster preparedness plans should reflect this.