2017 and 2018 have been record-breaking years. In 2017, 137 events were declared as disasters by FEMA and so far in 2018 there have been 83. Whether an event receives a federal disaster declaration is based the extent and types of damage, the cost of the emergency to state governments, and the effect on critical public facilities, as well as the cost of response efforts, the number of damaged homes and buildings, the number of people displaced, and threats to health and safety. Most events do not qualify as disasters by FEMA standards.
Many more events are rated as disasters at the state level and receive state emergency assistance. In July of this year, 36 counties in Minnesota were declared as “state of emergency” by Governor Dayton following severe flooding.
Still more devastating events do not get a disaster rating by any government level. For events that do not get any disaster rating, the costs of recovery are shouldered by the communities affected. In Minnesota we still have opportunities to help families impacted by flooding. Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) is managing the response process and volunteers from several organizations are assisting with clean up and repair/rebuild efforts in Lyon and Redwood Counties. Homeowners in Tracy still need help with cleanup. We are looking for a few volunteers for September 8. If you would like to get involved, contact Renee Pfenning.
While some disasters can be averted, most can’t, so the next best thing is planning for response. Being prepared lessens the impact and the losses of disasters. The UCC Disaster Ministries has many resources to help you with planning at multiple levels – for your home and family, for your local church, and for your involvement within your community. Check out these resources on the UCC web page.