Natural Disaster Response series:
‘When Rescuers Need Rescuing’
Widespread natural disasters are increasing in regularity and severity. It is of little surprise when rescuers need rescuing. Mother Nature gives no quarter to emergency services personnel over any other.
The good news. The willing and able no longer ask . . . why is this happening? But what can I do to help? Here are my resources . . . this is my skill set.
Buffalo, NY USA—a case in point
Over 3 days of Christmas, 2022. At the eastern end of Lake Erie at Buffalo, NY, USA.
In a couple of short days, over four feet of windblown snow accumulated over a large swath of the region. The most severe snowstorm in the United States in a generation. An all-time record-breaking weather event.
Streets and highways were strewn with vehicles where they stood. Hundreds of cars and trucks, even some service vehicles, were stuck in feet of wind-induced drifting snow throughout the region.
Motorists remained trapped in their vehicles for up to two days after the 3-day blizzard. Covered by snow, without heat and other life sustenance. Sometimes, entire families, where emergency services could not get to them the risks of exposure mounted by the minute.
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, an Erie County resident herself, declared a state of emergency. The federal government soon followed.
Have you ever been caught in a whiteout or snow squall? If so, you know how disorientating extreme blinding weather can be. Described by a Buffalonian as a "blizzard in a hurricane" for an entire day. The Lake Erie effect produced a gale-like hurricane wind condition in a massive snow dump. A test well beyond normal measures for emergency services to operate.
It got so bad, the Buffalo Police reported rescuers caught out and in trouble themselves. Overwhelmed by the severity and force of the hurricane-effect snowstorm. Again, resulting in emergency response teams in need of rescuing. Ambulance, fire, search & rescue, and even snowplow operators had trouble answering the call . . . healthcare professionals as well.
Most everything comes to a stop when one cannot see in a snowstorm. Or at least it should! In addition to vehicle pile-ups and carnage caused in a sudden, blinding storm, highways and city streets all over clog up with abandoned vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Even a fire engine! Imagine that . . . making it difficult for emergency vehicles to pass, even once the weather lets up.
Erie County Sherriff John Garcia reported that by the 3rd day, 420 EMS calls had gone unanswered. According to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this is not uncommon for widespread climate and natural disasters.
Imagine having to wait days to be rescued because there may not be enough rescuers', even non-professional rescuers, to heed the calls for help. Seems unbelievable!
The size and scope of this blizzard also forced thousands of residents to shelter for days in their homes.
Many of whom were without heat, hydro, medicines, and other sustaining supplies. Many were short of the basics for life, like food, water, and warming blankets. Others required non-elective, emergency medical treatments, like dialysis, for instance. Also insulin, childbirth health services, and other living-saving medical treatments. Folks freezing to death, roofs caving in, flooding . . . all reported.
Federal and State/Provincial responders
We purposefully use a catchall phrase "big government." This is to define the federal, state/provincial integrated emergency management agencies. To distinguish their response from that of the community and regional government.
So where was big government in the early stages of this severe weather event unfolding? They were marshalling their response from across the state and beyond. Coming from away and not there yet. During the period when only emergency services operating close by could answer immediate calls for help.
According to FEMA, it can take some time, days perhaps, for big government resources to set up on the scene. They recommend communities be prepared for this. This depends on location and how hard-hit the area is. Similar logistics would come into play for other major relief agencies (NGOs) as well.
Why? Besides the inherent organizational logistics, there are many variables. Impediments to accurate forecasting, for instance. Natural elements of uncertainty to contend with for weather and natural disaster events. Plenty to gage . . . storm severity, epicentre, terrain, timing, fallout, and so forth. Mother Nature is hard to predict. So it is for the movement of large relief organizations getting into position.
Of note, isolated cases of a "whole community" response helped save lives in the Buffalo region. Great news, even though it seems with little to no community-wide advanced planning.
When volunteers come on board, as described through this series of posts, certain costs are inevitable. We have a funding solution to help with that.
An Alternate Funding Source
Ascent Provisions fundraising grant funds and or select safety equipment to affected communities, as described, worldwide. Providing there are available campaign funds then, that is. As global demand dictates.
Operationally, we call upon community emergency services to manage who gets what and when in terms of our available donor-funded resources. Targeting fire, police, search & rescue, ems, and so forth. Whichever local agency, agencies, or response teams fit the profile.
Contributing at arm's length to a community's overall emergency disaster planning is the goal. Having donor funds in the kitty must come first. Getting in touch, case by case will determine this.
Ascent's Global Fund Initiatives is a good idea whose time has come. There is no commitment from either party, unless or until funds are accessed. There are no charges for our services unless specifically agreed to.
To learn more or get on our contacts list, please follow the links below. Small-dollar donations are welcome.
Emergency services personnel help people every day in hamlets and cities across the globe. It is what they do! More than a job, it is their vocation.
Supporting these dedicated women and men is central to this initiative. Particularly in their time of need. One disastrous cataclysmic event to the next.
We can all use your help! This is a word-of-mouth proposition. Please like, share, and backlink. It will mean the world to us.
You will find us at ascentprovisions.org to learn about our solutions, this outreach, and us.
Our next post: 'When We Are All First Responders.'
- #Rapid-onset Natural Disasters
- #Disaster Aid In Action
- #Whole Community Response
- #Global Relief Funds
- #Mother Nature's Hat Trick
New York Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/25/nyregion/buffalo-winter-storm.html
CNN - https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/27/weather/arctic-winter-storm-new-york-blizzard-tuesday/index.html