“The water got higher and my uncle and grandmother were trying to hold the door. But then – BAM! The water came through,” Kyla, now 18, said as she retold the story she will remember for the rest of her life.
Kyla is one of the millions of people whose lives were changed when Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc along the U.S. Gulf Coast in August 2005. The record-breaking storm took more than 1,300 lives and forced 1 million people from their homes. Children like Kyla were most affected – the storm left 370,000 children crammed in overcrowded shelters and thousands were separated from their families, sometimes for weeks and months at a time.
The devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina made it clear that action must be taken to better protect our children in times of emergencies, so the National Commission on Children and Disasters was formed. The commission published a report on how our country can better protect our children in areas like emergency evacuation, medical services and housing. Ten years later, we have made a lot of progress – but there is still work to be done, both by our government and families.
Last month, Save the Children® released its 2015 Disaster Report Card, which found that since the commission’s report was issued, our government has made many improvements to better prepare our nation’s schools and child care facilities. Congressional action last October is also expected to greatly improve systems for evacuation planning, family reunification and protection for children with special needs. That’s great news for the families of the 69 million children who spend their days in schools and child care facilities!
But Save the Children also found that nearly four in five of the recommendations issued in the commission’s 2010 report have not been met – only 17 have been fully met, and 20 recommendations have not yet been addressed. Progress has been hampered by a lack of leadership on the issue, inadequate Congressional funding and insufficient coordination between federal, state and local governments.
So what does this mean for you and your family? As the government continues to work towards better protection for our children, our families must take action, too. Start by using this interactive map to see how your state rates on preparations to protect children in emergencies. Simple steps like creating emergency contact cards will also help your family become one step closer to being disaster-ready.
Stay tuned next month when Save the Children and Primrose Schools® will be sharing more information and resources to help you create a Family Emergency Plan to get your family and children prepared for emergencies!
For more information about the Save the Children Disaster Report Card, visitwww.SavetheChildren.org/Katrina10.