When disasters strike, survivors need an appropriate exit strategy | R. Alisson Whitehead

Families in the quilt state of Kentucky are uniting to share the outpouring of compassion for the victims, most affected by a devastating twister, Saturday’s ice storm and Monday’s incredible flood — all in the last two weeks.

Survivors are impressed by the speed of donations being made, in a time of relentless calamity.

Volunteers are helping neighbors out, despite the risk of losing their own homes. Because of climate change, with an average of 18 tornado deaths each year, it is not just cyclical weather that is deadly. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is also on the rise, making this sense of purpose crucial for communities now reeling from the worst tornado outbreak in decades.

Even survivors of a tornado that hit Vanuatu in 2015 , which left 70 people dead and dozens more severely injured, are evacuating to Kentucky because of the devastation wrought on the state. The residents of Shively, and the entire state, have learned that in good weather, it’s rare to wake up and find your home destroyed. And for now, that’s as it should be. Extreme weather events are happening every day, and national governments do not seem to be stepping up to adequately prepare for the commonwealth of Kentucky’s horrific catastrophes.

This certainly could not have been an accident. The horrendous combination of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes is the result of climate change.

James Church, a member of the Public Affairs Research Council of Kentucky, said the situation here is “one of the most unusual in state history”. He added: “The public we tend to think of as resilient is frankly not so resilient in many places when it comes to major weather events. We all need to be more aware of what happened and make sure that we are doing all we can to prepare for and recover from future disasters.

Kentucky’s excessive power demand prompted Duke Energy to pass along an outrageous rate hike to the consumers, to offset the rising costs of earthquake safety and robust infrastructure. The flood was exacerbated by irresponsible ways that residents were storing water prior to the storm. These are the structural issues that community members are left struggling with.

Why the devastation in Kentucky is cause for national alarm | Will Peltz Read more

The state, on behalf of the people affected by these disasters, should be “returning home”. Instead of mourning, we should be preparing for the next tragedy. Climate change will affect us all, and it’s imperative that we all be prepared.

When natural disasters strike, survivors need to have an appropriate exit strategy in place. In Shively, church groups are delivering meals and offering support to communities like the Riverview, Coffee, Silver Spring, Quincy and Elk Ridge communities, who have been devastated by the tornado.

That is why people and organizations in Shively are offering support to local religious groups. That’s why the Shively-Covington First Baptist church, Shively United Methodist church, Shively Christian community and Church of the Ascension have opened up doors to neighbors. That’s why volunteers are coming to help this storm hit community.

Because a disaster cannot be processed through a one-time event, disaster relief is a 24/7 business. Though the majority of the population of Shively does not have the resources to get their homes back together, each person in Kentucky should be able to recover their lives within an appropriate plan with the help of volunteers and a network of in-kind donations.

Our lawmakers in the US have stated in support of climate science. This should not stop us from preparing, proactively, for and dealing with the inevitable disasters of a changing climate. We need to plan for climate change now, and not after a natural disaster has struck.

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