It's severe weather season, and hurricane season is just around the corner. Storm Team 3 has always stressed that everyone needs a hurricane survival kit. But when a disaster hits, the needs grow.
The first things we need are the obvious: food, water, shelter and medical aid. But there are other needs…ones you may not think of immediately.
1. Babysitting Services
After a disaster comes the cleanup, and this can be hazardous…especially for children and pets. Debris may have sharp objects or glass, and floodwater can be contaminated. Victims need to investigate or clean up the situation. So offer to watch their children or pets while they do so.
You have to document the property damage. Most of us can use our camera phones these days, but disposable cameras may come in handy too.
3. Sunscreen and Insect Repellant
Volunteer crews need protective clothing, like rubber gloves and rubber boots. They also need sunscreen and bug spray. Cleaning up is usually outside– sunscreen. Wet areas can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
4. Cleaning Supplies
You can't clean without cleaning supplies. There are never enough garbage bags. Bleach is a must. If there's a water shortage, bleach can be used to treat drinking water.
5. Laundry Services
Clothes will more than likely be soiled or soaked by dirty water, and they'll need to be cleaned. But often in emergencies, there's no water or electricity. During the Nashville flood, the Tide Company brought in mobile Laundromat trucks for the victims.
6. New Underwear
Donated clothes are usually easy to come by, but underwear and socks are sometimes forgotten. This needs to be added as a must.
7. Pet Supplies
During Hurricane Katrina, many pets were affected. Pet owners need pet food, litter, medicines and even free dog-walking services.
After a disaster, victims may need an area to dry things out and clean them off. Nonprofit organizations also need spaces, such as parking lots or empty warehouses to set up shelters, relief centers and donation drop off points.
Vehicles are often lost to natural disasters, and public transportation may be disrupted. Consider offering a carpool service between relief centers, shelters, churches and the grocery store or donate bus passes.
10. Personal Comforts
To give luxury gifts to someone who has lost everything may seem frivolous. Who needs a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant when their kitchen has just been destroyed? The truth is…a lot of people do.
The emotional and psychological toll of a disaster is often just as serious, though less visible, as the material damage.
Sometimes small personal comforts can help return a sense of normalcy.
Children could use a stuffed animal. Adults could maybe use a massage.
The main gift you can give, however, is hope. A donation, monetary or otherwise, no matter how big or small, expected or unexpected, let's the victims know that they are not alone. It's the small things that build– or rebuild — a community.