It’s hard to believe Hurricane Katrina was ten years ago…or is it? The effects of the disaster are still felt by those who were there, especially those who were children at the time. Hundreds of thousands of kids were displaced from their homes, schools, and communities, sometimes separated from their families for weeks at a time.
“Even ten years later, many young people continue to struggle with the deep and enduring impact Hurricane Katrina had on their childhood,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. “The commission created a national roadmap to better protect children from disaster and to help them bounce back. Our leaders must finish the job.”
Miles was referring to the bipartisan National Commission on Children and Disasters, created after Katrina to identify major gaps in the nation’s ability to protect U.S. children across 11 areas of disaster planning, including mental health, emergency medical services, child care, education, sheltering, housing, and evacuation. The Commission recently issued a new national disaster report card, Still at Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina. The findings from the report are troublesome: four out of five recommendations by the Commission remain unfulfilled.
Among the most needed actions:
– Improve health leadership and coordination to address children’s needs in emergency planning at hospitals
– Strengthen resources and funding for mental health programs so children can get counseling following a major disaster
– Create solid plans for children to be reunited with their families as soon as possible following an emergency
There have been some important improvements, with progress in emergency planning at schools and child-care facilities around the country, and new safety standards to protect children during recovery in emergency shelters.
As we work together to ensure our children’s safety in times of crisis, Save the Children continues to work to support those ends through the Commission’s recommendations, and encourages us all to be better prepared for a possible emergency.
Do you have a plan in place if disaster strikes your area?
Take Action Challenge
Create (or update!) your family reunification plan! 69 million children are separated from their parents every work day. You can make sure you and your children stay together if disaster strikes by making Emergency Contact Cards from Save the Children. This is a simple way to help your children and their caregivers a reliable way to connect with you in the chaos following a natural disaster. Read the full report and find additional resources from Save the Children.