Asking the Right Questions Before A Disaster Strikes
Photo above: Senior Partnership Development Manager, Kipp Branch, distributes MAP Disaster Health Kits at a distribution center following Hurricane Irma.
By MAP International
On the morning of September 20, 1017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. One of the most powerful storms in history, Maria devastated the island and plunged all of its 3.4 million residents into a desperate humanitarian crisis. One year later, Hurricane Florence has wreaked havoc on North and South Carolina with severe flooding that has forced 15,000 people from their homes.
For both hurricanes, MAP was one of the first organizations to support emergency management teams on the ground by providing thousands of Disaster Health Kits (DHK) and health supplies. DHKs provide essential items to help prevent the spread of disease. Each kit is designed to help meet the needs of a person residing in a shelter for one week.
MAP International is often asked how we prepare in advance for these devastating storms. We asked MAP’s Senior Partnership Development Officer, Kipp Branch to explain how MAP prepares for disasters beforehand and then acts immediately to help people in need.
Q: How does MAP prepare for each disaster?
“Even before a disaster hits, MAP becomes a disaster response center. When we know a hurricane is forming, or receive news of an earthquake, or see refugees fleeing conflict, MAP springs into action. Our first question is always, “How can we best help those most affected?”
To respond effectively requires effective communication with trusted partners on the ground and nearest to the disaster. Fortunately, MAP works with dozens of such partners around the world. If MAP has sufficient warning, we ask what supplies will be needed and what distribution is available.”
Figure 1: Senior Partnership Development Manager, Kipp Branch, distributes MAP Disaster Health Kits at a distribution center following Hurricane Irma.
Q: What actions does MAP take immediately following a disaster event?
“As soon as we know how many people will be affected in an area, we send a supply of Disaster Health Kits to the scene to be distributed at shelters.
The contents of these kits help people who have fled with nothing receive both tangible help and emotional support. The basic hygiene supplies provided in DHKs help prevent disease and allow displaced people to care for themselves and their families. DHKs also let them know that someone cares.
As the recovery process continues, we are constant communication with our partners to continue to assess the needs of the people affected and to provide the medicines and health supplies required. As we saw with Hurricane Maria, this need went on for months.”
Figure 2: Three boys receive a MAP Disaster Health Kit at a distribution site following Hurricane Irma, September, 2017
Q: Does MAP keep disaster relief supplies in stock?
“MAP has prepositioned thousands of DHKs at our global distribution facility in Brunswick, Georgia that are ready for deployment in a disaster situation. Volunteers pack these kits either in our warehouse or at packing events at businesses, churches or schools or businesses. Because of their help, we’re able to respond very quickly.”
Figure 3: Volunteers help pack MAP Disaster Health Kits at MAP’s Global Distribution Center in Brunswick, GA.