After lashing out and wreaking havoc to the Philippines and leaving 246 people dead, Ketsana then demanded Vietnam to bear witness to its great power of destruction, leaving another 20 people dead. In another part of the world, an earthquake caused a tsunami to race to the Samoan shores, leaving, in this part of the world, 99 dead. Very recently, Australia bore witness to a red dust storm that turned it crimson for a few terrifying hours.
As if taking a cue, people are likewise greatly unsettled after being at the receiving end of repeated blows: first, the financial collapse of the world markets, and now, atmospheric convulsions of the epic and never-before-seen kind.
The unsettling thing is that this time, man knows he has brought it upon himself.
But worry is useless. Now for the practical matters.
What to do?
Disaster Preparedness has been the cornerstone of many a government and used carelessly as a mantra, with no one taking it seriously, and people mumbling half-apprehensively, It will not happen to me.
But it has. Places never before touched by furious floods were engulfed by it. Neighborhoods, both rich and poor, have given up many of their denizens and billions of their properties to it.
But panic, also, is useless. Here are some things that you can do, interspersed with some lessons learned (and realized) from this moment of great trial:
1. Pack a bag and hang it in an easy-to-see, easy-to-get spot, with the following inside (you will need to replace the perishables every 6 months):
- Food (crackers, dried fruit, canned goods and can opener) and water (at least 2 liters)
- Bedding and clothing
- Flashlight (with extra batteries), flares (if possible), candles, match/lighter, whistle, compass
- Pocket knife or Swiss knife, rope, duct tape (in case of bleeding or other emergencies)
- Personal supplies (toiletries – toilet paper, sanitary napkins, mini-soap, shampoo, toothbrush) and medication
- Personal documents (photocopies of legal documents – passport, birth/marriage certificates, contracts, wills) and money (place in water-proof container)
- Pre-paid phone/SIM cards (all cellphone companies, if possible)
- Pen and paper
2. Some tips from friends:
- From the boss – on cars – remove the car battery, jack it up so it is elevated, which, hopefully, will help it get out of the reach of flood waters, even if only a little. If the roads are still passable, drive your car/s to a mall with upper level parking (go to the highest level that has a roof).
- From the hubby and as seen on TV – a life jacket, floaters, surfboard, boogie/wave board may come in handy. An airbed may prove useful too and will be able to carry the whole family, except it will take some time to inflate it.
- From our financial planner – your safe where you put your documents or other valuables may or may not be waterproof. To be on the safe side, put your documents in Ziploc storage bags or containers. Or you can inquire from your local bank if their safe deposit boxes are waterproof and fire proof but put your original documents in Ziplocs anyway.
- A rope to tie yourself to your family members and to latch on to something solid, if necessary.
- Close the doors and windows of your house or board it up (if you are leaving or going to the roof) so that if and when the water gets inside, your belongings will not easily flow out of every open door or window and it will serve as a thief-deterrent too.
- Have insurance for your car and properties with Acts of God coverage; have life insurance for yourself.
It will be quite an interesting time for insurance companies (if it has not started already) because of the many claims that will be laid at their doorsteps. The peril that they carefully prepared for and calculated into their premiums has happened, and at such a grand, devastating manner. The net effect, according to my financial planner who is also an insurance expert, is that (1) people will now have a hard time getting an Acts of God clause into their auto and property insurance (waiting period may be 2-3 months) and (2) premiums for the next year will increase.
But now, more than ever, the importance of protection and preparation are paramount. Like my husband said, these are what you set up and prepare for, with the hope that you will never, in your lifetime, see a situation where you will have to use it.
And the most important thing, pray.
Postscript: Man’s Inhumanity to Man
A crisis makes heroes and villains of people. While there are many stories of heroism, one cannot ignore horror stories of fastfood chains turning away people – typhoon victims – who wanted to use restrooms or who wanted to charge their cellphones (one gave an emphatic “no”, another charged a USD$3 fee), or those who pillage the houses of those hardest hit, or those who charged USD$500 at the height of the storm for the use of a rubberboat before a family can be brought to safety, or those selling (selling!) relief goods to those who cannot take another blow.
Please choose to be an angel during these times. And if you have employees, likewise instruct them to open your doors. The next life you save may be that of someone you know, or yours.
Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
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