Who Do You Rely On in an Emergency?

Originally at Simple is Working – 8/26/11

Who do you rely on in an emergency?

With Hurricane Irene barreling up the East Coast as I write this, I figure that this is a valid question.

So who will you rely on during this emergency?

The Government (Federal, State, County, Local) or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) i.e. Red Cross or other aid agencies?

Emergency Preparedness people are doing a great job of attempting to tell people of the dangers that Hurricane Irene poses to the general populace. They are asking people to be ready for this event and are issuing evacuation notices to get people into safer areas. FEMA and the State Emergency Management Agencies are doing their best to tell people that if Irene hammers their area to be prepared to live without power or other conveniences that the public wants for 72 or more hours after the event.

How will people react to being in a shelter for at least 2-3 days with how many other people there too? What happens if it turns into weeks?  Gonna need a lot more security than they had in New Orleans for some of those big East Coast cities.

I wonder how many people have actually listened over the last couple of days about being ready?

I know that both State and Federal Emergency Management Agencies will do better than they did during Katrina, but I also have the feeling that if Irene hits the East Coast hard, they will be quickly overwhelmed (after all budget cuts have depleted most State Agencies to the absolute bare bones) and when you are running with a skeleton crew, it will be pretty hard to keep running on adrenaline for to the extent that will be necessary for a major disaster, especially once the initial event is over and we go into the Recovery phase of a disaster.

The EMA’s track record is not all that great and while they have made a lot of changes for the better, they are still bureaucratic institutions that have line and control issues (especially the control issues). Let’s see how they work this time at both State and Federal levels.

Corporations and Power Companies – The for profit people?

With their 3 day supply chain system, I wonder how many broken links there will be after Irene blows through?  There are images of empty stores already on the news, what happens if the infrastructure is damaged, then 3 days worth of supplies on hand will not be enough.  It will be interesting to see how the corporations and power companies react to this emergency and how quickly they are back up and running close to normal.

I know that power companies will bring in lineman from unaffected areas to get power back as quickly as possible, but they have an aging infrastructure and I wonder how badly this storm will damage that aging infrastructure.

Corporations that have little or no inventories beyond their normal 3 days worth of “just in time delivery”, with limited ability to re-stock quickly, will be especially hard hit, especially when people start wanting to return to their homes. This will be one of those interesting things that should be watched closely, so you will have a better understanding of how to prepare for the next time, because there will be a next time – unfortunately.

How are the insurance companies going to be after this disaster?  They are going to have a difficult time making a profit this quarter, if there are billions of dollars worth of claims after the hurricane.  Do you think that the claims process might become more adversarial as people who have paid their premiums for years and years finally make a claim, have to jump through multiple hoops designed to make it more difficult for them to receive a full claim?

We will see.

Making money during an emergency seems to be a tough thing, but some will find a way. I just hope that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and that the corporate bottom-lines are not the over-riding factor for those person-entities called corporations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Local Communities

They are under so much pressure from all sides that many of them can’t do anything at all or are limited in what they will be able to do.  Their budgets have been cut to bare bones, they don’t have the resources that they had in the past.  That means that local communities and resources will be some of the last things back on-line if there is significant damage from Hurricane Irene.  Look at your town’s infrastructure and who maintains it and tell me honestly how well you believe your municipality will be able to respond to an overwhelming emergency situation.


Most people today don’t know their neighbors or neighborhood very well, if at all.  Emergencies sometimes bring out the best in neighborhoods and they all pull together and get things done to make sure that people in the neighborhood are safe and secure. Unfortunately, all too many of them will remain compartmentalized and people just worry about their own little piece of the pie and to hell with everyone else.  I wonder what will happen in your neighborhood?


The bottom-line is that eventually in most emergencies it will come down to your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (otherwise known as KSA) that you have developed to survive and be ready in an emergency. Most of the time your survival will be the result of the choices that you made well before an emergency situation even begins or are you just starting to think about this emergency preparedness thing now. If you are don’t you think it is a little late and that whatever you do is going to be a lot of knee-jerk reactions, instead of well thought-out plans?

Sure you can still do some things to help yourself before Irene hits your home, but wouldn’t it have been easier if you had prepared for more than a couple of days or started today?  I tend to think so.

Being ready for an emergency comes down to what preparations that you made/make, the attitude that you have and how dependent on others you are to make decisions and choices for you. At some point you have to realize you are the person who is responsible for yourself and your family, not some faceless bureaucrat, local law enforcement official or politician who may be speaking out of both sides of their mouth at whatever level they are at.

Below is a quote to think about, as we prepare and live through Hurricane Irene.

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”

– Margaret Mitchell

Will Hurricane Irene give you what you expected and was ready for as possible, or will she leave you shell-shocked and dependent upon someone else?

The chances are that over the course of the next week or so, you will have several things happen that you were not expecting and you will have to deal with it – whatever it is.  If it comes down to a survival situation are you ready?  Do you know who you can rely upon or what to do if “they” don’t show up when you need them to rescue you, from the choices that you made yesterday, today, or will make tomorrow?

The truth is there is only one person that you can really rely on completely, in all situations and that is yourself. Am I being pessimistic – no just honest. So can you depend upon yourself in an emergency?

I hope and pray that the damage Hurricane Irene does to the East Coast is minimal and that many use this emergency as an opportunity to look at how to get ready for the next emergency and if there are things that you can do and be more ready next time.   Unfortunately, I don’t really believe that too many are going to take this opportunity and do that, they will try to go back to living the way they did before Irene and it might just be too late to do that.

Who do you rely on in an emergency?  Good question, do you know?

If you don’t maybe you better think about it.

This is just a few quick thoughts, each of these areas could be books and we don’t have time for that now.